Recent data has linked myocarditis to young people (mainly ages 16 to 24 years) receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. While we do not typically treat this age group at CTVS, we do see myocarditis in our patients quite often.
Myocarditis is a cardiovascular condition that occurs when the heart muscle becomes inflamed. It can be triggered by a variety of causes such as a virus (like COVID-19 itself), certain medications, or immunological disorders. Symptoms might include chest pain, shortness of breath of heart palpitations. It is easily treatable once detected with medication or medical devices (in severe cases) to restore heart function.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) met in early June to discuss data (compiled by the CDC’s Vaccine Safety Datalink) for a small number of myocarditis cases due to an adverse reaction from the COVID-19 vaccine. The group primarily affected was young men between the ages of 16 and 24 years who reported moderately severe chest pain, palpitations, or shortness of breath anywhere from two to four days after their second dose.
Highlights from the data include:
- 323 cases of myocarditis were identified in approximately 8 million young adults who were vaccinated
- 95% of these cases were mild and resolved quickly
- There is an estimated rate of roughly 13 cases of myocarditis occurring in every 1 million vaccinations
- No deaths were reported
After comparing the risks of the vaccine to the risks associated with contracting the COVID-19 virus itself, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), ACIP, and several other organizations advised that children ages 12 and up should continue to receive the vaccine.
CTVS board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Hunter Kirkland, and a parent to teenage children himself, agrees that the benefits of the vaccine still far outweigh the risks.
“Children can still contract the virus and suffer some very serious side effects, and because we still do not understand what the long-term effects of the virus are on kids, it is important to do all that you can to prevent them from getting it,” says Dr. Kirkland. “The current vaccine also protects young people from the newer and potentially serious Delta strain that we are beginning to see here in Central Texas.”
Dr. Kirkland further adds though that parents should keep a close eye on their child following their vaccination to watch for any adverse side effects. If they experience any chest pain or difficulty breathing, contact your physician right away.
As of June 24, more than 4 million children in the United States have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic.
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