Headache After Vaccination: An Update on Recent Clinical Trials and Real-World Reporting

Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2022 Nov 23;1-24. doi: 10.1007/s11916-022-01094-y. Online ahead of print.


Purpose of review: The aim of this review is to characterize headache as a vaccine adverse event (VAE) in clinical trials.

Recent findings: Of the recent phase III vaccine RCTs (non-COVID-19), 53 studies reported on headache (13 infectious agents). The median rate (interquartile range) of headache was 15.6% (IQR: 9.6-37.6%). Of these, 24.5% of the RCTs reported headache greater in the vaccine group compared to the placebo/control group. In the herpes zoster vaccination trials, headache was more common in all active groups: median rate 33.9% (IQR: 29.7-40.5%) as compared to placebo: median rate 17.7% (IQR: 15.4-23.8%). Influenza and HPV vaccination trials were the 2nd and 3rd most common to have headache as a VAE. Of the 6 widely distributed COVID-19 vaccinations, median rate of post-vaccination headache was 39% (IQR: 28-50%). Headache is a common VAE in vaccine trials. Standardized grading methods, predictors of persistence, and treatment regimens are warranted.

Keywords: COVID-19; Headache; Migraine; Reactogenicity/immunogenicity; Vaccine adverse event; Vaccine/vaccination.

Publication types

  • Review