Surveillance of Safety of 3 Doses of COVID-19 mRNA Vaccination Using Electronic Health Records

Michiel J.M. Niesen, Colin Pawlowski, John C. O'Horo, Doug W. Challener, Eli Silvert, Greg Donadio, Patrick J. Lenehan, Abinash Virk, Melanie D. Swift, Leigh L. Speicher, Joel E. Gordon, Holly L. Geyer, John D. Halamka, A. J. Venkatakrishnan, Venky Soundararajan, Andrew D. Badley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Importance: Recent reports on waning of COVID-19 vaccine-induced immunity have led to the approval and rollout of additional doses and booster vaccinations. Individuals at increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection are receiving additional vaccine doses in addition to the regimen that was tested in clinical trials. Risks and adverse event profiles associated with additional vaccine doses are currently not well understood. Objective: To evaluate the safety of third-dose vaccination with US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved COVID-19 mRNA vaccines. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cohort study was conducted using electronic health record (EHR) data from December 2020 to October 2021 from the multistate Mayo Clinic Enterprise. Participants included all 47999 individuals receiving 3-dose COVID-19 mRNA vaccines within the study setting who met study inclusion criteria. Participants were divided into 2 cohorts by vaccine brand administered and served as their own control groups, with no comparison made between cohorts. Data were analyzed from September through November 2021. Exposures: Three doses of an FDA-authorized COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, BNT162b2 or mRNA-1273. Main Outcomes and Measures: Vaccine-associated adverse events were assessed via EHR report. Adverse event risk was quantified using the percentage of study participants who reported the adverse event within 14 days after each vaccine dose and during a 14-day control period, immediately preceding the first vaccine dose. Results: Among 47999 individuals who received 3-dose COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, 38094 individuals (21835 [57.3%] women; median [IQR] age, 67.4 [52.5-76.5] years) received BNT162b2 (79.4%) and 9905 individuals (5099 [51.5%] women; median [IQR] age, 67.7 [59.5-73.9] years) received mRNA-1273 (20.6%). Reporting of severe adverse events remained low after the third vaccine dose, with rates of pericarditis (0.01%; 95% CI, 0%-0.02%), anaphylaxis (0%; 95% CI, 0%-0.01%), myocarditis (0%; 95% CI, 0%-0.01%), and cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (no individuals) consistent with results from earlier studies. Significantly more individuals reported low-severity adverse events after the third dose compared with after the second dose, including fatigue (2360 individuals [4.92%] vs 1665 individuals [3.47%]; P <.001), lymphadenopathy (1387 individuals [2.89%] vs 995 individuals [2.07%]; P <.001), nausea (1259 individuals [2.62%] vs 979 individuals [2.04%]; P <.001), headache (1185 individuals [2.47%] vs 992 individuals [2.07%]; P <.001), arthralgia (1019 individuals [2.12%] vs 816 individuals [1.70%]; P <.001), myalgia (956 individuals [1.99%] vs 784 individuals [1.63%]; P <.001), diarrhea (817 individuals [1.70%] vs 595 individuals [1.24%]; P <.001), fever (533 individuals [1.11%] vs 391 individuals [0.81%]; P <.001), vomiting (528 individuals [1.10%] vs 385 individuals [0.80%]; P <.001), and chills (224 individuals [0.47%] vs 175 individuals [0.36%]; P =.01). Conclusions and Relevance: This study found that although third-dose vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 infection was associated with increased reporting of low-severity adverse events, risk of severe adverse events remained comparable with risk associated with the standard 2-dose regime. These findings suggest the safety of third vaccination doses in individuals who were eligible for booster vaccination at the time of this study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E227038
JournalJAMA Network Open
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 14 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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