But pediatric cardiologists have a message for these parents: Covid-19 should scare you more – far more – than the vaccine.
And these doctors should know. They have treated young patients who contracted this heart disease after vaccination – it’s called myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle – and they have also treated young patients who have had Covid-19.
There is simply no comparison between the two, they say.
Myocarditis sounds scary, but there are mild versions of it. In almost all cases in the young vaccinated (they were between 16 and 24 years old), the symptoms disappeared quickly. Covid-19, on the other hand, can be a long illness, or it can kill a youngster – it has already killed thousands.
Both doctors, along with the American Heart Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, recommend the Covid-19 vaccine for young people.
What are the causes of myocarditis and how often does it happen to young people?
Although myocarditis is relatively rare, it does happen to young people (and we mean long before the arrival of the Covid-19 vaccine). It is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection. A different vaccine, one against smallpox, has already been linked to myocarditis.
There is a broad spectrum of myocarditis. Some people don’t feel anything and are fine without treatment. For others, myocarditis can be fatal.
Berger estimates that in the emergency room where he works at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, they see about one child per week with the disease in the summer, when coxsackie and other viruses that cause myocarditis are in full bloom. . In general, these young people are otherwise in good health.
People from puberty to their early 30s are at higher risk for myocarditis, according to the Myocarditis Foundation. Men are affected twice as often as women.
How many people in the United States have developed myocarditis after being vaccinated against Covid-19?
As of May 31, nearly 170 million Americans had at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During that time, fewer than 800 cases of myocarditis or pericarditis (inflammation of the tissue around the heart) were reported after receiving the vaccine, according to the CDC, most after the second dose. And these are preliminary numbers – they could be lower because further investigation could show that not all of these people actually had myocarditis or pericarditis.
Are these numbers unusual?
As we mentioned, people get myocarditis and pericarditis – an inflammation of the lining around the heart – even without the Covid-19 vaccine. The CDC set out to determine if the number of post-vaccination myocarditis and pericarditis is higher than what you would see without the Covid-19 vaccine.
The answer was “yes” for people aged 16 to 24. The CDC found that among 16- and 17-year-olds, as of May 31, 79 reports of illnesses had been reported shortly after vaccination, and you would normally expect to see around two to 19 cases in this group. Among those aged 18 to 24, 196 cases have been reported and you would expect to see between 8 and 83 cases. Cases of myocarditis and pericarditis were also reported in the older age groups, but the numbers were no higher than you would normally expect.
Did the myocarditis in these vaccinated young people really make them sick?
Seems like a flaming heart would, by definition, always be a big deal, right? But this is not the case.
“A lot of times people have myocarditis and don’t even know it. It’s going away and they’re fine, ”Berger said.
In the vast majority of these post-vaccination cases, patients have made a full recovery.
Looking at 270 patients admitted and discharged as of May 31, the CDC found that 81% had fully recovered their symptoms. The remaining 19% had persistent symptoms or their state of recovery was unknown.
Hall, the pediatric cardiologist at Yale, said many post-vaccination myocarditis patients in his hospital didn’t feel very sick, but they were admitted so doctors could do more testing and out of caution.
“Some of these young men and boys were pretty upset that they had to stay in the hospital,” Hall said.
What types of symptoms did these young people have?
Hall is co-author of a study published last week on seven cases of myocarditis in adolescents after vaccination.
They all had chest pain and some of them also had a fever or felt weak or tired.
Their symptoms started between two and four days after the second dose of the vaccine. They spent two to six days in the hospital. For all seven patients, their symptoms resolved quickly with medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids.
All seven cases were male. In the CDC report, most of the cases were men.
What do young people do when they contract Covid-19?
This goes to the heart of the matter. When young people developed myocarditis after vaccination, the numbers were small and they weren’t very sick.
While most of the young people who develop Covid-19 are doing well, some develop complications and even die from the infection.
As of June 9, 2,637 people under the age of 30 had died from Covid-19, according to the CDC. As of June 5, preliminary data shows 3,110 people under the age of 18 have been hospitalized, a number the CDC says is likely underestimated.
Berger and Hall have each cared for dozens of Covid patients.
“Some of them spent weeks in the intensive care unit. They had poor heart function. They had acute infections that were completely preventable by the vaccine, ”Berger said.
Although they recovered, some had long-term illnesses.
“We remain concerned about these children for the long term,” Hall said. “We’ve seen some of them with persistent changes in their heart tests. It is a very serious illness. ”
CNN’s Justin Lape contributed to this report.