Three doses of COVID-19 mRNA vaccination are safe based on adverse events reported in electronic health records

April 14 2022

Recent reports on waning of COVID-19 vaccine induced immunity have led to the approval and roll-out of additional dose and booster vaccinations. At risk individuals are receiving additional vaccine dose(s), in addition to the regimen that was tested in clinical trials. The risks and the adverse event profiles associated with these additional vaccine doses are currently not well understood. Here, we performed a retrospective study analyzing vaccine-associated adverse events using electronic health records (EHRs) of individuals that have received three doses of mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines (n = 47,999). By comparing symptoms reported in 2-week time periods after each vaccine dose and in a 2-week period before the 1st vaccine dose, we assessed the risk associated with 3rd dose vaccination, for both BNT162b2 and mRNA-1273. Reporting of severe adverse events remained low after the 3rd vaccine dose, with rates of pericarditis (0.01%, 0%-0.02% 95% CI), anaphylaxis (0.00%, 0%-0.01% 95% CI), myocarditis (0.00%, 0%-0.01% 95% CI), and cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (no cases), consistent with earlier studies. Significantly more individuals (p-value < 0.05) report low-severity adverse events after their 3rd dose compared with after their 2nd dose, including fatigue (4.92% after 3rd dose vs 3.47% after 2nd dose), lymphadenopathy (2.89% vs 2.07%), nausea (2.62% vs 2.04%), headache (2.47% vs 2.07%), arthralgia (2.12% vs 1.70%), myalgia (1.99% vs 1.63%), diarrhea (1.70% vs 1.24%), fever (1.11% vs 0.81%), vomiting (1.10% vs 0.80%), and chills (0.47% vs 0.36%). Our results show that although 3rd dose vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 infection led to increased reporting of low-severity adverse events, risk of severe adverse events remained comparable to the standard 2-dose regime. This study provides support for the safety of 3rd vaccination doses of individuals that are at high-risk of severe COVID-19 and breakthrough infection.


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 Speicher, Holly L. Geyer, John Halamka, Aiveliagaram J Venkatakrishnan, Venky Soundararajan, Andrew D. Badley

nference, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA

Mayo Clinic


Correspondence to:

Venky Soundararajan ( and Andrew Badley (