A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccine safety workgroup that meets weekly to review data following COVID-19 vaccinations has found some cases of Myocarditis in older teens and younger adults.
Dr. Alexandra Yonts, an infectious disease specialist at Children’s National Hospital, told WTOP that the CDC has not released any hard numbers on the cases. Anecdotally, she said it appears there may be dozens or hundreds of cases.
“We’re talking in the range of 10s to maybe hundreds at this point,” Yonts said. “But there have been no more firm population-based studies to know what the incidence is yet.”
Yonts said the CDC has specified that the cases they are seeing have occurred in older teens and younger adults, and there really hasn’t been any major differences in gender.
The two cases at Children’s National have been older teenagers, she said.
Yonts, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the George Washington University School of Medicine, said the CDC is in the early data-collecting phase of its findings.
“Most cases appear to be mild, and follow-up of cases is ongoing,” a report from the workgroup’s most recent meeting on May 12 stated. “They’re working to get more information, to get all the medical records from some of the reported cases.”
Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle that decreases the ability of the heart to pump blood normally, according to the Harvard Health Medical School. Symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath and palpitations.
Yonts recommends any vaccinated person who has experienced these symptoms follow up with a cardiologist within three to six months to make sure there is no additional scarring, or any other side effects that may be hard to detect in the short term.
She said while most of the cases so far have been self-resolved, medical experts will continue to collect information to determine whether there is anything “beyond just the temporal association with the vaccination,” and what else may need to be done.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) COVID-19 Vaccine Safety Technical (VaST) Work Group has been reviewing post-COVID-19 vaccine data since the U.S. started its vaccination program.
“This is a prime example of the routine vaccine safety surveillance mechanism working as it should,” Yonts said. “There are multiple different prongs to this safety surveillance.”
Putting things into perspective, Yonts said there have been few reported cases of Myocarditis, compared to the millions of people that have been vaccinated.
“It is something parents and young adults should be on the lookout for. They should be looking for that chest pain that may develop within the week after vaccination,” Yonts said. “But in the end, we see very severe cardiac complications even in young people after COVID infection. So the general consensus in the medical community is that the benefits of vaccination even with this potential, still being investigated, still far outweigh the risks.”
WTOP’s Kristi King contributed to this story.
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