Association of seizure with COVID-19 vaccines in persons with epilepsy: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Ali Rafati, Melika Jameie, Mobina Amanollahi, Mana Jameie, Yeganeh Pasebani, Delaram Sakhaei, Saba Ilkhani, Sina Rashedi, Mohammad Yazdan Pasebani, Mohammadreza Azadi, Mehran Rahimlou, Churl Su Kwon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Seizure aggravation following coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines is a major cause behind vaccine hesitancy among persons with epilepsy (PwE), resulting in lower immunization rates. We systematically reviewed seizure-activity-related events in PwE following COVID-19 vaccination. We systematically searched PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus, and Cochrane Library, until January 31, 2023, and included articles reporting seizure activity-related events in PwE receiving COVID-19 vaccination. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses were followed. The protocol was registered with PROSPERO (CRD42022312475). Outcomes included pooled incidence proportions of (a) increased seizure frequency, (b) status epilepticus (SE), and (c) change in seizure type. Of the 2207 studies, 16 entered the meta-analysis. The pooled incidence proportion of increased seizure frequency (16 studies-3245 PwE) was 5% (95% CI: 3%−7%, I2 = 52%). Regarding increased seizure frequency, no significant difference was observed between mRNA and viral vector (OR: 1.11, 95% CI: 0.49−2.52, I2 = 0%), and between mRNA and inactivated virus (OR: 1.60, 95% CI: 0.27−9.37; I2 = 0%). The pooled incidence proportion of SE (15 studies-2387 PwE) was 0.08% (95% CI: 0.02%−0.33%, I2 = 0%). Ultimately, the pooled incidence proportion of change in seizure type (7 studies-1172 PwE) was 1% (95% CI: 1%−2%, I2 = 0%). The meta-analysis revealed post-COVID-19-vaccination increased seizure frequency in 5% of PwE, with no difference between mRNA and viral vector or inactivated virus vaccines. Furthermore, we found 0.08% and 1% incidence proportions for postvaccination SE and change in seizure type, respectively. While noteworthy, these values are far less than reports for COVID-19 infection, emphasizing vaccination importance in preventing COVID-19 consequences in PwE.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere29118
JournalJournal of Medical Virology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19 vaccines
  • adverse effects
  • epilepsy
  • safety
  • seizure
  • status epilepticus


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