Risk of cardiac arrhythmia and cardiac arrest after primary and booster COVID-19 vaccination in England: A self-controlled case series analysis

Julia Stowe*, Heather J. Whitaker, Nick J. Andrews, Elizabeth Miller FMedSci

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Various cardiac arrhythmias have been reported after COVID-19 infection and vaccination. We assessed the risk after primary immunisation with the ChAdOx1 adenovirus vectored vaccine, and primary and booster immunisation with an mRNA vaccine in 40 million vaccinated adults with 121 million doses (33.9% ChAdOx1 and 66.1% mRNA) in England. Methods: Hospital admissions for a cardiac arrhythmia and emergency care attendance for a cardiac arrest in individuals aged 18 years and older on the 31st March 2021 were linked to the national COVID-19 immunisation register. The incidence of events 1–14 and 15–28 days after vaccination relative to a post-vaccination control period was estimated using the self-controlled case series method modified for fatal events. Outcomes were stratified by arrhythmia type, vaccine type, age group and dose number (up to five). Elevated relative incidence (RI) estimates with p < 0.001 were considered strong evidence of an association. Findings: There was an increased risk of admission for arrhythmia events that were largely palpitations without myocarditis within 14 days of a second priming dose of an mRNA vaccine in 18–49 year olds with an RI of 1.66 (95 % confidence interval 1.47,1.86) for BNT162b2 and 3.75 (2.52,5.57) for mRNA-1273 (p < 0.001) and also after a first booster dose, 1.34 (1.17,1.53) and 1.75 (1.43,2.15) respectively (p < 0.001). No other cardiac arrhythmia, including cardiac arrest, showed an elevated incidence within 28 days of vaccination for any dose, age group or vaccine type. In contrast the risk of a cardiac arrhythmia of all types, including a cardiac arrest, was consistently elevated in those testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection. Interpretation: Our study provides reassuring evidence of the safety of the ChAdOx1 and mRNA COVID-19 vaccines with respect to serious cardiac arrhythmias and of the favourable risk benefit of mRNA booster vaccination.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100418
JournalVaccine: X
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s)


  • Arrhythmia
  • COVID-19 vaccine safety
  • Cardiac arrest
  • SARS-CoV-2 infection


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