Bell's palsy and influenza(H1N1)pdm09 containing vaccines: A self-controlled case series

Leonoor Wijnans, Caitlin N. Dodd, Daniel Weibel, Miriam Sturkenboom

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An association between AS03 adjuvanted pandemic influenza vaccine and the occurrence of Bell's palsy was found in a population based cohort study in Stockholm, Sweden. To evaluate this association in a different population, we conducted a self-controlled case series in a primary health care database, THIN, in the United Kingdom. The aim of this study was to determine whether there was an increased risk of Bell's palsy following vaccination with any influenza vaccine containing A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like viral strains. Secondly, we investigated whether risks were different following pandemic influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 vaccines and seasonal influenza vaccines containing the influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 strain. Methods The study population comprised all incident Bell's palsy cases between 1 June 2009 and 30 June 2013 identified in THIN. We determined the relative incidence (RI) of Bell's palsy during the 6 weeks following vaccination with either pandemic or seasonal influenza vaccine. All analyses were adjusted for seasonality and confounding variables. Results We found an incidence rate of Bell's palsy of 38.7 per 100,000 person years. Both acute respiratory infection (ARI) consultations and pregnancy were found to be confounders. When adjusted for seasonality, ARI consultations and pregnancies, the RI during the 42 days after vaccination with an influenza vaccine was 0.85 (95% CI: 0.721.01). The RI was similar during the 42 days following seasonal vaccine (0.96, 95%CI: 0.82±1.13) or pandemic vaccine (0.73, 95%CI: 0.47±1.12). Conclusion We found no evidence for an increased incidence of Bell's palsy following seasonal influenza vaccination overall, nor for monovalent pandemic influenza vaccine in 2009.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0175539
JournalPLoS ONE [E]
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017
Externally publishedYes


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