Myocarditis Follows Infection More Often Than Vaccine: CDC

Some young patients, parents have worried about heart issues developing after shots
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 2, 2022 2:25 PM CDT
Myocarditis Follows Infection More Often Than Vaccine: CDC
A man walks out of a vaccination bus in December at a mobile clinic in Manhattan.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

(Newser) – For the first time, a study has directly compared the chances of teenagers and young men developing heart inflammation after receiving the coronavirus vaccine versus having a COVID infection. Myocarditis is much more likely to surface after an infection than after inoculation, the study showed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. The findings address the concerns young men and their families may have had about the risks of the vaccine, NBC News reports. Doctors said the research confirms their experience with patients.

"It absolutely mirrors what we've seen here," Dr. Gerard Boyle of Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital. "The number of patients that have come in with post-infection myocarditis have been much more numerous than the patients that have come in with post-vaccination myocarditis—without question." Teenagers have been vaccinated against the coronavirus at a lower rate; just over half of those ages 12 to 17 have had two doses, per the American Academy of Pediatrics. "I think people are still hesitant" to have their children be vaccinated, said Dr. Stuart Berger of Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. "But now we have real, hard data that we can provide them with."

Whether it follows an infection or a vaccination, instances of myocarditis are rare, experts said, though other studies have warned that a COVID infection increases the risk of heart problems. Symptoms include chest pain and shortness of breath. A CDC panel has advised waiting eight weeks after the first dose of an mRNA vaccine to administer the second, per NBC, after experts in Canada found myocarditis occurred less often when the pause was longer than three or four weeks. It may be that a second dose quickly following the first triggers a stress reaction in the heart at a time when the body's immune response is heightened, an expert said. (Read more myocarditis stories.)

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