New information for parents on myocarditis and COVID-19 vaccines

As a primary care pediatrician, I have been getting lots of questions from parents about myocarditis and pericarditis after COVID-19 vaccination. Many parents who had planned to get their children vaccinated are hesitant now, worried about what they are hearing on the news.

What are myocarditis and pericarditis?

Myocarditis is inflammation of the muscle of the heart, and pericarditis is inflammation of the tissue that forms a sac around the heart. There are many possible causes of this inflammation. Infections, especially viruses, are a common cause. It can also be caused by autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, certain medications, heavy metals, and radiation treatments. It has also been caused by vaccines, although this is rare. The symptoms are chest pain, shortness of breath, or an abnormal heartbeat (fast, fluttering, or pounding).

Currently, about 1,000 cases of myocarditis and pericarditis have been reported after vaccination against COVID-19 with one of the mRNA vaccines, Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna. The cases have been most common in male adolescents and young adults, occurring most often after the second dose, and usually within several days of receiving the vaccine. The majority of cases have been mild. Experts are still gathering information, but as of this writing, 79% of teens and young adults who experienced this had recovered.

How do the risks compare with the benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

It’s understandable to worry about a side effect involving the heart. But before choosing not to vaccinate, it’s important to look at the whole picture.

Millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given, and there have only been 1,000 cases of heart inflammation. Doing the math, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that for every million doses given, there have been 67 cases of heart inflammation in boys 12 to 17 (nine in girls of that age group), 56 in those aged 18 to 24 (six in girls), and 20 in males 25 to 29 (three in girls). That means the risk is quite low.

While it’s true overall that children and young adults have been less affected by COVID-19 than older adults, there’s no guarantee that they won’t get very sick if they catch it. Experts are particularly worried about the new COVID-19 variants, which seem to spread more quickly and cause more severe disease. The available vaccines do appear to protect against these variants, and the vast majority of current hospitalizations and deaths are in people who are unvaccinated.

COVID-19 can affect the heart, too — not only as part of MIS-C, a multisystem inflammatory complication of COVID-19 seen in children, but also just from the infection itself. COVID-19 can cause heart damage, including myocarditis.

Our only way out of this pandemic is to get as many people vaccinated as possible, including young people. Young people who are vaccinated can safely go to school or camp, play sports, and be with their friends and families, all of which are important for their current and future health and well-being — and all of which were curtailed during the pandemic.That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics, the CDC, and other health groups are encouraging people to continue to vaccinate despite the cases of myocarditis and pericarditis. The risk is small — and the benefits are huge.

Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren

Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.

2 Corinthians 10:15-16 not boasting beyond our measure, that is, in other men’s labors, but with the hope that as your faith grows, we will be, within our sphere, enlarged even more by you, so as to preach the gospel even to the regions beyond you, and not to boast in what has been accomplished in the sphere of another.

2 Thessalonians 1:3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater;

2 Peter 3:18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Ephesians 1:17-18 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

Ephesians 3:16-19 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, read more.

Colossians 1:10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

2 Peter 1:3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.

1 Thessalonians 4:10 for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more,

Philippians 1:9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment,

1 Thessalonians 3:12 and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you;

2 Peter 1:7-8 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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