On July 30, 2021, the CDC issued a report on COVID-19 vaccine safety in adolescents aged 12-17. The study examined reports of myocarditis, a condition characterized by inflammation of the heart muscle, in individuals in this age group that took the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine between December 14, 2020 and July 16, 2021.
In detail: The study relied on self-reported data received through the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Of the 9,246 reports received, 397 (4.3%) of them listed myocarditis. Symptoms reported included chest pain, increased troponin levels, and increased c-reactive protein levels.
According to the Myocarditis Foundation, 3.1 million cases of myocarditis were diagnosed in 2017. The condition “enlarges and weakens the heart, creates scar tissue and forces it to work harder to circulate blood and oxygen throughout the body.”
The condition often occurs in young, athletic males from puberty into their 30s. This appears to be consistent with how the condition affects vaccinated individuals, as most reports of myocarditis have come from young males after the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
Treatment for the condition may include medicine or surgery, and complications range from arrhythmia to irregular heartbeat and heart failure.
The big picture: While there were 14 reports of death associated with the vaccine, none of those reports were determined to be the result of myocarditis. In fact, the journal Pediatrics recently published a case study of seven vaccinated teenagers who were diagnosed with myocarditis, and all seven of them recovered after treatment with anti-inflammatory drugs.
Another study, which awaits peer review, concluded, “Young males infected with the virus are up 6 times more likely to develop myocarditis as those who have received the vaccine.” Thus, the risk of myocarditis may be much higher for those infected with COVID-19 than those vaccinated.
Worth noting: Despite the risks of myocarditis, the CDC’s report noted, “The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices conducted a risk-benefit assessment and continues to recommend the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for all persons aged ≥12 years.”
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