Rochester cardiologist discusses rare heart inflammation in adolescents after 2nd COVID-19 vaccine

Health News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The CDC is holding an emergency meeting Friday over concerns surrounding heart inflammation in young adults after their second COVID-19 vaccine shot. 

While the inflammation is rare, the CDC says the link between the two is stronger than they previously thought. The myocarditis is being seen primarily in teenage males and young adult males after their second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. 

“About 4 days after, we’re seeing a predominance of adolescent boys between 16 to 24, kind of have this diagnosis of myocarditis,” said Vishal Parikh, a Cardiologist with Rochester Regional Health. 

Parikh says about 80 to 85 percent of those impacted have made full recovery. Others still have some lingering side effects. 

“Myocarditis is basically inflammation of the heart muscle and sometimes the heart sac that is around the muscle. It basically can cause chest pain, shortness of breath, abnormal heart rhythms and it’s usually diagnosed with an EKG, which checks the electrical activity, as well as an echocardiogram which is an ultra sound, and often a heart MRI as well,” Parikh said. 

Parikh says myocarditis is really rare, but this isn’t the first time they have seen the inflammation after a vaccine. 

“There’s been a couple case reports here and there from the flu vaccine but it’s been more mainstream, they have seen it with the smallpox vaccine, which is a live vaccine, but in general the risk of developing of myocarditis from vaccines is extremely low,” Parikh said. 

The inflammation has concerned some, but experts say there is more of a chance you get myocarditis after getting the COVID virus, than actually getting it from a vaccine. 

“You can throw a decimal point and several zeroes after it and then a random number and that is probably the percentage risk of developing myocarditis from vaccines,” Parikh said. 

Parikh said he understands why some parents have concerns, but he would still recommend their kids get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

“We have to weight the risks and the benefits of getting the vaccine and showing the risk of developing complications from COVID and having the after effects of having complications from COVID are higher than developing the very small risk of developing complication from the vaccine,” Parikh said. “I think they are investigating further whether this is really complication from the vaccine. We have seen a temporal relationship but we don’t have a casual relationship yet, so I think I would promote it.”

Myocarditis can impact anyone, old or young. Investigators are still trying to figure out why in these specific cases with COVID vaccines are impacting those ages 16-24-years-old. 

The CDC is is currently looking into a few hundred of these cases in people under the age of 30 since April. Only a handful were hospitalized and very few were sent to the ICU. 

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