Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is a syndrome where individuals experience a cluster of symptoms including an inappropriate level of tachycardia (rapid heartbeat) upon standing. The condition is more common in females, especially adolescents and young adults. There can be a number of associated symptoms, including dizziness, weakness, vision changes, difficulty concentrating, sleep disturbances or nausea.

Although the pathophysiology of POTS is yet to be fully understood, it is thought to be due to an abnormal autonomic nervous system response. When changing positions from sitting to standing, gravity sends blood to the legs and pelvis activating the sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system, releasing noradrenaline. This tightens bloods vessels in the lower body so that blood is moved back to the heart, slightly increasing the heart rate, usually all in under a second, keeping blood pressure and bloody supply to the brain stable. In individuals with POTS, this process does not work as well as it should and the brain compensates by increasing the heart rate.

POTS can have an impact on quality of life, with many people experiencing both physical symptoms as well as other effects on mood, cognition and sleep. However, most cases can be successfully managed with lifestyle modifications. Medications are only required in rare circumstances.

POTS and vaccines

A diagnosis of POTS is not a contraindication to receiving vaccinations. In fact, some cases of POTS are thought to occur following an acute infection, some of which are vaccine-preventable. Therefore it is important that any individual who has a diagnosis of, or is concerned about, POTS should receive all recommended vaccinations.

Human papillomavirus (HPV)

There have been concerns previously after a small number of case reports described POTS being diagnosed following human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination. However, this has been thoroughly assessed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and after examining the data from more than 80 million doses of vaccines, no causal link has been established between HPV vaccines and POTS.


There has not been an established link between COVID-19 vaccines and an increased risk of developing POTS. In fact, there have been reports of POTS developing after COVID-19 infection and POTS has been recognised as a post-covid condition (colloquially known as long COVID). Therefore being vaccinated against COVID-19 is recommended for individuals concerned about developing this condition.


For individuals with a previous diagnosis of POTS who are concerned for a worsening of their condition after vaccination, it is important to consider that most vaccine side effects are mild and transient. Overall the benefits of vaccination are likely to far outweigh the risks. However, any concerns should be discussed with an individual’s treating healthcare practitioner.


Author: Julia Smith (RCH Immunisation Fellow)

Date: September 2022

Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre (MVEC) staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.

You should not consider the information in this site to be specific, professional medical advice for your personal health or for your family’s personal health. For medical concerns, including decisions about vaccinations, medications and other treatments, you should always consult a healthcare professional.