The notion that Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) could be a consequence of vaccination was born of the swine influenza vaccine program administered in the United States in 1976. At the time, the estimated risk of GBS following receipt of the swine flu vaccine was estimated to be about 1 per 100,000 recipients. Since that time, the relationship between influenza vaccine and GBS has been variable. For example, Canadian researchers assessed the risk of GBS after seasonal influenza vaccination in Ontario, Canada, between 1993 and 2011. They found that the risk of GBS within six weeks of an influenza illness was much greater than after influenza vaccination. The attributable risks were one GBS admissions per million vaccinations compared with 17 GBS admissions per million influenza infections. Therefore, one could reasonably argue that influenza vaccine prevents GBS.
Additional studies listed below showed that neither measles, mumps, rubella, HPV, meningococcal conjugate, polio, pneumococcal, varicella, Hib, rabies, tetanus, diphtheria, hepatitis A, nor hepatitis B vaccines were associated with an increased risk of GBS.
Reviewed by Paul A. Offit, MD on September 11, 2018