You may have heard people talking about the COVID vaccine and the heart. We have had many families reach out to us with questions. Let’s take the opportunity answer some of those questions:
What is myocarditis?
Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle. Most commonly it is caused by a virus. Often a cause is not found. People with myocarditis may have chest pain, abnormal EKGs, or abnormal heart function.
What does that have to do with the COVID vaccine?
The CDC is looking into a group of people reported to have myocarditis after getting their COVID-19 vaccine. Centers across the country, including in Washington and Oregon, have seen cases. Most were teens and young adults after their second dose. Most complained of chest pain within 4 days of receiving the vaccine. Most cases were mild.
Should my child get a COVID vaccine?
After a discussion as a group, we continue to recommend COVID-19 vaccination for our patients who are eligible.
At this point we do not know whether the risk of getting heart inflammation is any higher in teens who got the vaccine versus teens who did not. We do know that lots of teens are getting the vaccine and VERY FEW teens get myocarditis. Some of these cases of myocarditis may be a coincidence that has nothing to do with the vaccine. As of May 27, 2021, over 5 million teens age 12-17 have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine in the US.
When deciding to give your child (or yourself) a vaccine, it is important to look at the risks of the disease the vaccine protects against. We know COVID-19 causes less disease in children versus adults. However, it still causes serious, possibly fatal, heart problems in a small number of kids. Some teens also have long term tiredness and difficulty breathing after COVID-19 infections. We know that the vaccine is good protection against the COVID-19 virus. The evidence so far still shows that it is far more dangerous to get the disease than the vaccine.
In short, the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the very low risks of myocarditis.
What symptoms do I need to watch out for?
People commonly have headache, muscle pain, fever, nausea or feel tired in the few days following the vaccine. Please contact your primary care office if your child experiences chest pain or difficulty breathing.
Where else can I read about this?
Here is a link to the information provided by the CDC about the risks of myocarditis and the COVID vaccine:
The CDC and our office will continue to follow this situation closely. We will keep you updated as we know more.