Federal health experts are convening today to discuss the approximately 800 cases of myocarditis and pericarditis reportedly suffered by people after receiving either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccines. The two rare but serious conditions involve dangerous inflammation of the heart muscle and according to MarketWatch, more than half the cases reported as of June 12 occurred in people younger than 30, including 75 teenagers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that roughly 300 million doses of the vaccines were administered so the incidence of heart inflammation is indeed infrequent. However, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will examine the issue further and come up with recommendations for the vaccination of younger people based on their data.
According to news reports, the American Heart Association (AHA) said that the myocarditis reports should not discourage people from getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
“The American Heart Association continues to encourage all adults and children ages 12 and older in the U.S. to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they can, as recommended by the CDC. Research continues to indicate that the COVID-19 vaccines are 91% effective at preventing severe COVID-19 infection and spreading it to others. In addition, the benefits of vaccination far exceed the very unusual risks,” said the AHA in a press release. “According to the CDC, fewer than 1000 cases of myocarditis-like illnesses were reported as of May 13, 2021, and nearly 312 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the U.S. to date.”
According to research published in the AHA journal, Circulation, healthcare experts noted that all of the patients presented with symptoms three to seven days after receiving their vaccine. The Mayo Clinic says that myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle which is normally caused by a virus but can result from a reaction to a drug. Signs and symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, and arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat).
Experts say it is important to remember that COVID-19 itself can cause not only heart inflammation, but serious illness and death. However, agencies across the globe are investigating the link between the vaccines and myocarditis. Israeli health authorities have said they believe there is a “probable link” between heart inflammation and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that was the most widely used in the country. The cases reported in Israel involved mostly males and occurred after the second dose of the vaccine.
Many healthcare authorities are questioning whether it is wise to give young adults and adolescents COVID-19 vaccines and risk myocarditis when the mortality rate from COVID-19 for this age is low compared to older populations.
“Only 8.8% of all COVID-19 vaccines have been given to people between the ages of 12 and 24. Yet 52.5% of all cases of vaccine-induced myocarditis and pericarditis have been in this age group. Recall, this same age group has a COVID-19 recovery rate of 99.997%,” tweeted Kelly Victory, M.D.
Experts say that although Victory did not cite sources for her figures, they are similar to the data reported by the CDC COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force, according to Health Feedback. The CDC says on its website about this age group that “most patients who received care responded well to medicine and rest and quickly felt better.”