Frequently Asked Questions: COVID-19 Vaccines & Cases of Myocarditis

With recent reports that a small percentage of adolescents may have developed myocarditis after their COVID-19 vaccination, it is understandable to have questions about how this could affect your child. Here is everything you need to know. 

As part of ongoing efforts to evaluate the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines, there have been a small number of cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) that have been reported in teenagers and young adults receiving either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. These cases have been reported to the public health authorities to determine if this appears to be a direct result of the vaccine or not.

Public health authorities continue to gather more information, but at the moment it does not appear so. The number of cases of myocarditis still falls within the average range that we would see if we did not have either COVID-19 infection or widespread COVID-19 vaccination. It is very possible that these cases have received attention because people are being asked frequently about their symptoms after getting vaccine.

These cases are very rare. Of the millions of adolescents and young adults who have received the COVID-19 vaccines, the numbers of cases of myocarditis currently amount to a few individuals. It is possible that with this attention, there will be reports of more cases that come in.

Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle. It can be seen with many viral infections including influenza (“the flu”), enteroviruses (“summer cold viruses”) and the SARS-CoV2 virus that causes COVID-19 among many others. Learn more

The symptoms are quite variable and may consist of chest pain, fast or irregular heartbeats, breathing difficulty or fatigue. More severe symptoms could include significant breathing difficulty or passing out. These symptoms are often vague and can overlap with other illnesses or general side effects of the vaccine. Therefore, the presence of such symptoms does not imply that the heart muscle is inflamed.

Not based on our current knowledge. Most of these cases are mild and resolve with no specific interventions or only simple anti-inflammatory medicines. The symptoms only last a few days and at this time, there are no indications of any lasting issues, although individuals with this diagnosis will require continued follow up. 

We providers at Lurie still feel very strongly that the benefit of receiving the COVID-19 vaccines far outweighs any risk that the vaccines may present. We have seen many children become sick enough to come to the hospital with COVID-19 infection or related symptoms of the Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C). These children and their families endure a lot as they recover and could have symptoms that last weeks to months. The current evidence is that these vaccines prevent the worst symptoms and hospitalizations in both adults and children. Many of us are having our own children vaccinated at the same time we recommend vaccine for our patients and their families.

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