CDC looking at heart inflammation in teens, young adults after COVID-19 vaccinations

Federal health officials are investigating whether the unusually high number of reports of heart inflammation in teens and young adults is tied to vaccination for COVID-19, particularly after the second dose of a messenger-RNA version from Pfizer and Moderna.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices called an emergency meeting to scrutinize the data on June 18 after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention received more than 225 reports of myocarditis or pericarditis after vaccination in people 30 or younger.

Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle. Pericarditis is an inflammation of the saclike membrane surrounding the heart.

Most of the patients recovered, but 41 had lingering symptoms, 15 were still hospitalized, and three were in the intensive care unit, the CDC said.

Dr. Tom Shimabukuro, deputy director of the CDC’s Immunization Safety Office, told a Food and Drug Administration panel this week that young men accounted for over half of the myocarditis reports after vaccination, despite accounting for a fraction of the shots.

“We clearly have an imbalance there,” Dr. Shimabukuro told advisers.

He said the number of cases in 16- to 24-year-olds, in particular, was higher than expected. The reports also mirror some early reports from Israel, which conducted an aggressive vaccine campaign earlier this year.

Officials said the condition remains exceedingly rare and more study is needed to link vaccination to the condition.

Evidence is growing, however, so the CDC’s ACIP panel will discuss the data and decide whether the benefits still outweigh the risks from the vaccines for certain groups.

The U.S. vaccination campaign has reached over half of the national population without major safety crises, but there have been ripples.

A few of the initial recipients in December experienced a severe allergic reaction, or anaphylaxis, right after the first shot.

Also, Europe and the U.S. grappled with rare blood clotting — especially in young women — following adenovirus-vector vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca. Regulators updated the label on the vaccines to advise doctors on treating the condition.

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