In rare cases, teens are developing post-vaccine myocarditis. How big a concern is this?

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Jenna Ramkhelawan, 12, receives the first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. Credit: Marta Lavandier/AP
Jenna Ramkhelawan, 12, receives the first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. Credit: Marta Lavandier/AP

According to the CDC, after a meeting of expert advisors discussed the data [June 23], more than 300 cases of heart inflammation have been documented after the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. The cases have been seen mostly in teens and young adults between 12 and 39 years old, the agency says. Symptoms can include chest pain or pressure and a temporarily abnormal ECG and blood test results.

Naturally occurring heart inflammation is rare, but it does occur from time to time in teens and young adults. The rate seen after these vaccines is slightly higher than the “background” rate.

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So, should parents of teens hesitate to have their kids vaccinated against COVID-19?

Vaccine experts and the American Academy of Pediatrics say no, don’t hesitate. It’s good for doctors and patients to be aware that there might be a connection between the mRNA vaccines and heart inflammation, and to report to their pediatrician anything they see in that first week after vaccination.

But it is also important, the CDC notes, to recognize that even if this does turn out to be an extremely rare side effect of the vaccine, “most patients who received care responded well to medicine and rest and quickly felt better.”

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