What parents should know about rare cases of heart inflammation in young people after a COVID-19 vaccine

Malikai McPherson, 16, gets a shot of a COVID-19 vaccine in Florida.
A nurse gives Malikai McPherson, 16, a shot of a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic at Health First Medical Centre in Florida.

  • The CDC acknowledged Wednesday that mild heart inflammation may be a rare side effect of COVID-19 vaccination.
  • The condition, called myocarditis, is more common in young men and teenage boys, especially after their second dose.
  • COVID-19 is still a greater threat to the heart, though, which is why health experts recommend vaccination.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Federal disease investigators at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are keeping an eye on cases of myocarditis and perocarditis after vaccination against the coronavirus.

They’re keeping an especially close watch on teenage and young adult men who’ve been administered two doses of Pfizer or Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines.

According to data reviewed by independent advisors to the CDC this week, it looks like they might be at slightly increased risk for developing the conditions, which can cause some chest pain in the week after vaccination.

The good news is that it is both exceedingly rare and mild.

Here’s what parents need to know.

Higher rates among young men and boys

a chart of myocarditis cases showing more occurring in the first five days after a dose of COVID-19 vaccine

Myocarditis cases have occurred after Moderna and Pfizer’s mRNA vaccines, and are more common among male teens after their second dose.

According to CDC, the rate of myocarditis is 5 per million doses for females from 12-39 years old, and 32 per million for males in the same age category, during the 21 days after a COVID-19 vaccination.

So far, the CDC has identified 29 cases of myocarditis or pericarditis among 12 to 39 years olds, in the 21 days after their first or second dose.

a chart showing all 29 chart-confirmed patients have been discharged home

Rare cases which merit delaying shot 2

Public health leaders have high confidence the vaccines are safe, which is why they’re recommending full COVID-19 vaccination, even for young men.

“As physicians, nurses, public health and health care professionals, and, for many of us, parents, we understand the significant interest many Americans have in the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines, especially for younger people,” the the CDC, Department of Health and Human Services, American Medical Association, and 14 other leading medical and public health associations said in a joint statement Wednesday.

“The facts are clear: this is an extremely rare side effect, and only an exceedingly small number of people will experience it after vaccination. Importantly, for the young people who do, most cases are mild, and individuals recover often on their own or with minimal treatment. In addition, we know that myocarditis and pericarditis are much more common if you get COVID-19, and the risks to the heart from COVID-19 infection can be more severe.”

There is one exception: anyone who had myocarditis after their first COVID-19 shot may wait to get a second.

COVID-19 is more dangerous to the heart

teenagers wait and play games after getting COVID-19 shots
David Morales, 15, (L) and brother Daniel Morales, 14, (R) play games on their phones in a waiting area after receiving a first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccination clinic at the Weingart East Los Angeles YMCA on May 14, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.

Dr. Eliot Peyster, a cardiologist at the University of Pennsylvania, estimates the incidence of myocarditis from a COVID-19 vaccine is about “100 times lower” than from COVID-19.

Cardiologist Paul Cremer from the Cleveland Clinic, estimates that “maybe 10% to 25% of patients will have evidence of cardiac injury” after severe COVID-19.

More older adults across the US are now vaccinated, and better shielded from severe disease and COVID-19 variants, while young, unvaccinated people are hospitalized for COVID-19 at higher rates.

Concerned parents: look out for these symptoms

Most cases of myocarditis surface in the first five days after a COVID-19 shot is administered. You should see a doctor if you notice:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering, or pounding heart

“Patients can usually return to their normal daily activities after their symptoms improve,” the CDC says. “They should speak with their doctor about return to exercise or sports.”

The bottom line, says Dr. Tom Shimabukuro from the CDC’s COVID-19 vaccine safety team, is that “this is still a rare event,” far less common than the heart inflammation that can accompany a COVID-19 infection.

“Patients generally recover from symptoms and do well.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

CDC acknowledges a likely link between COVID-19 vaccines and heart inflammation for young men, but says it’s ‘extremely rare’ and the Delta variant is a bigger threat

a teenager gets jabbed with a covid-19 vaccine
Simon Huizar, 13, receives a first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccination clinic at the Weingart East Los Angeles YMCA on May 14, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.

  • Myocarditis, a heart inflammation, has affected 0.004% of men aged 12-29 after their second shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • CDC advisors met Wednesday and acknowledged a likely link between COVID-19 vaccination and myocarditis in young men.
  • But myocarditis risk from COVID-19 is much higher, especially with the Delta variant in play.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The nation’s top doctors and nurses are near unanimous in their agreement that the COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the US are both effective and safe – even for young teenage boys who may, in rare cases, experience a type of heart inflammation called myocarditis, prompting chest pain after vaccination.

On Wednesday, an advisory group of experts independent to the CDC spent hours discussing and dissecting data on reports of myocarditis and pericarditis (heart swelling) in people under 29 years old who’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 in the US.

The rate of such reports, while tiny, has been highest among young men, after their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna’s mRNA vaccines. 434 cases of myocarditis have been documented in males from 12-29 years of age, in the 21 days after their second shot. That’s a rate of about 0.004%, among more than 10 million vaccinated in that same age group nationwide.

But there’s also a link between COVID-19 infections and myocarditis, and it’s younger men who face the higher risk of death from COVID-19, according to data the advisory group reviewed.

At the end of the discussion, the CDC, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and 15 more public health organizations released a joint statement, that said: “The facts are clear: this is an extremely rare side effect, and only an exceedingly small number of people will experience it after vaccination.”

graph showing increased risk of death in young men compared to young women with covid

A rare event that resolves quickly

Malikai McPherson, 16, gets a shot of a COVID-19 vaccine in Florida.
A nurse gives Malikai McPherson, 16, a shot of a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic at Health First Medical Centre in Florida.

Even for these young men “this is still a rare event,” the CDC’s Dr. Tom Shimabukuro from the COVID-19 vaccine safety team said at the meeting, stressing that their cases typically resolve quickly.

“Most cases are mild, and individuals recover often on their own or with minimal treatment,” the joint statement also read. “In addition, we know that myocarditis and pericarditis are much more common if you get COVID-19, and the risks to the heart from COVID-19 infection can be more severe.”

Dr. Eliot Peyster, a cardiologist at the University of Pennsylvania, previously told Insider that the incidence of myocarditis from a vaccine is about “100 times lower than the incidence when you actually get [a COVID-19] infection.”

The advisory group weighed the risks and benefits of vaccination to young men, and determined that benefits of vaccination clearly outweigh risks, even for males from 12-17 years old.

While there could be an additional 56 to 69 cases of myocarditis in this group, the advisors looked at forecast data that found vaccines could prevent 5,700 additional COVID-19 cases, 215 hospitalizations, 71 ICU admissions, and two deaths over 120 days.

What to do about second doses

The only group the CDC advised some caution for in administering second doses was young men who’ve had myocarditis after their first vaccine dose. They may want to defer a second dose, or discuss the situation with their doctor first.

For everyone else, medical professionals are stressing now’s the time to get vaccinated.

The Delta variant, now responsible for more than 20% of sequenced cases in the US, is spreading much slicker and faster than other versions of the coronavirus have.

teenagers wait and play games after getting COVID-19 shots
David Morales, 15, (L) and brother Daniel Morales, 14, (R) play games on their phones in a waiting area after receiving a first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccination clinic at the Weingart East Los Angeles YMCA on May 14, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.

“With the troubling Delta variant increasingly circulating, and more readily impacting younger people, the risks of being unvaccinated are far greater than any rare side effects from the vaccines,” the joint statement continued.

“If you get COVID-19, you could get severely ill and be hospitalized or even die. Even if your infection is mild, you or your child could face long-term symptoms following COVID-19 infection such as neurological problems or diminished lung function.”

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