A significant number of people obtaining COVID-19 vaccines have complained of dizziness. Some 11.8% of the reports associated with COVID-19 vaccines in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) cite dizziness as a possible side effect. An additional 0.80% list vertigo as a complaint while 1.27% reported syncope (fainting).
Several adverse events are common among vaccines, according to a CDC list, which doesn’t include dizziness. Those include injection site pain and swelling, chills and mild fever, fatigue, headache and sore muscles or joints.
Dizziness is, however, a common health complaint. A 2010 paper in American Family Physician estimated that dizziness accounts for 5% of primary care visits.
Dizziness is also a vague term, encompassing vertigo, disequilibrium, presyncope and lightheadedness.
- Vertigo involves a sensation of movement, whirling or feeling off-balance.
- Disequilibrium relates to a feeling of unsteadiness or impending fall.
- Presyncope involves a sense of feeling faint or on the verge of losing consciousness.
- Lightheadedness is a vague term but can refer to feeling disconnected from the environment.
Some 1.27% of VAERS entries to date reference syncope — fainting. CDC notes that it has received reports of fainting for almost all types of vaccines.
Dizziness following COVID-19 vaccination can occasionally be a symptom of an allergic reaction, but this is most common in the first 15 to 30 minutes of vaccination, according to CDC.
In many cases, such allergic reactions are accompanied by skin symptoms quickly following vaccination, including skin rashes, itching, flushing and swelling.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus itself could cause dizziness in several ways. It can cause damage to the brain and trigger encephalitis (brain inflammation) and spur the production of inflammatory cytokines, which harm the brain.
Reports of dizziness following COVID-19 vaccination have decreased recently. Some 16.5% of VAERS entries related to COVID-19 vaccine from December 14, 2020 to January 13 cited dizziness as a complaint. That figure has since fallen more than four percentage points.