Background: COVID-19 continues to be a major health threat, particularly among at-risk groups, including individuals aged 60 years or older and people with particular medical conditions. Nevertheless, the absence of sufficient vaccine safety information is one of the key contributors to vaccine refusal. We aimed to assess the short-term safety profile of the BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 vaccine booster doses. Methods: In this self-controlled case series study, we used a database of members of the largest health-care organisation in Israel. We analysed the medical records of individuals at risk of COVID-19 complications who had received two doses of the monovalent BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (tozinameran, Pfizer–BioNTech) as their primary course of vaccination and then also received BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 vaccine boosters between July 30, 2021, and Nov 28, 2022, as a monovalent first or second booster, or as a bivalent first, second, or third booster, or a combination of these. We included individuals who had active membership of the health-care organisation and who were alive (excluding COVID-19 deaths) throughout the entire study period. We excluded individuals who, during the study period, were either not active Clalit Health Services members or died of non-COVID-19 causes, and those who were infected with COVID-19 during the 7-day period after vaccination. Individuals' at-risk status was assessed on the day before the baseline period started. The primary outcome was non-COVID-19 hospitalisation for 29 adverse events that might be associated with vaccination. For each adverse event, we compared the risk difference of hospitalisation during a 28-day pre-vaccination baseline period versus during a 28-day post-vaccination period, using a non-parametric percentile bootstrap method. Findings: Of the 3 574 243 members of the health-care organisation, 1 073 110 received a first monovalent booster, 394 251 received a second monovalent booster, and 123 084 received a bivalent first, second, or third booster. Overall, we found no indication of an elevated risk of non-COVID-19 hospitalisation following administration of any of the booster vaccines (risk difference in events per 100 000 individuals: first monovalent booster –37·1 [95% CI –49·8 to –24·2]; second monovalent booster –37·8 [–62·2 to –13·2]; and bivalent booster –18·7 [–53·6 to 15·4]). Except for extremely rare elevated risks after the first monovalent booster—of myocarditis (risk difference 0·7 events per 100 000 individuals [95% CI 0·3–1·3]), seizures (2·2 [0·4–4·1]), and thrombocytopenia (2·6 [0·7–4·7])—we found no safety signals in other adverse events, including ischaemic stroke. Interpretation: This study provides the necessary vaccine safety assurances for at-risk populations to receive timed roll-out booster vaccinations. These assurances could reduce vaccine hesitancy and increase the number of at-risk individuals who opt to become vaccinated, and thereby prevent the severe outcomes associated with COVID-19. Funding: Israel Science Foundation and Israel Precision Medicine Partnership programme.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Infectious Diseases