A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel said there is a “likely association” between mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and rare reports of heart inflammation in younger age groups.
Still, the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices ultimately concluded that the benefits of receiving a shot “clearly outweigh” the risks.
The panel is currently looking into 323 confirmed cases of what’s called myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscles. They said the condition is most common in adolescent men ages 16 to 24 roughly five days after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
Of the 323 diagnosed myocarditis, 309 of whom were hospitalized, 295 were discharged at the time of analysis and at least 79% recovered from symptoms. Nine remain hospitalized to date, and two are in intensive care units.
“All that being said, we also need to remember the number is exceedingly low,” said Community Health Chief Physician Executive Dr. Ram Yeleti. “Twelve in one million is still very, very rare. You’re more likely to get struck by lightning.”
Dr. Yeleti said myocarditis is also a symptom of COVID-19, and the chances of getting the condition from the virus is much higher than getting the condition from a vaccine.
“But more importantly, with COVID, you can get much more severe diseases,” said Dr. Yeleti.
Dr. Yeleti also points out that the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is not included in these concerns, thus there are options for those on the fence.
“The fact that the CDC is meeting, the FDA is watching this, means that the system is working exactly the way it should be,” said Dr. Yeleti. “It doesn’t mean that there’s a problem with the vaccine or you shut things down. There’s going to be things come up, and I’m glad that we have officials that are being vigilant and watching all this and not just brushing it away.”
Dr. Tom Shimabukuro, deputy director of the Immunization Safety Office at the CDC, said there have been more than 27 million doses administered in the U.S. Of those millions of doses, the panel has received a total of 484 preliminary reports of myocarditis following vaccination.
Due to those odds, the panel ultimately decided that “currently, the benefits still clearly outweigh the risks for COVID-19 vaccination in adolescents and young adults.”
The panel will continue to investigate another 140 preliminary reports of myocarditis.