You may have heard reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is looking into a small number of cases of heart inflammation in teens who received the COVID-19 vaccine. While investigators have not established that the heart condition — known as myocarditis — was caused by the shots, and most cases appear to be mild, you may still have concerns. We’ve asked Infectious disease expert Dr. Alexandra Brugler Yonts and cardiologist Dr. Craig Sable to tell us more about the findings.

What did the CDC announce this past weekend?

The CDC is looking into reports that a very small number of adolescents and young adults developed a heart issue called myocarditis within a week of receiving the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC received these several dozen reports through routine safety surveillance mechanisms such as the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting Systems (VAERS) and the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD).

What is the CDC doing about these reports?

The Food and Drug Administration, CDC and other public health agencies are continuing to monitor and investigate these reports and determine if there is any association or link to COVID-19 vaccination.

While the CDC investigates, are public health authorities recommending we pause the use of these vaccines?

At this time, the consensus from the medical and scientific community is that the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination, and subsequent prevention of COVID-19 disease and complications of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) and Post-Acute COVID Syndrome (“long COVID”), far outweigh the rare, possible risk of myocarditis.

Children’s National Hospital continues to recommend COVID-19 vaccination for children 12 years and older.

What is myocarditis?

Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle that decreases the ability of the heart to pump blood normally.

What should parents look for after their child receives the vaccine?

We recommend that parents monitor their children for symptoms of chest pain, shortness of breath and fast or irregular heartbeat that may be consistent with myocarditis, and immediately report those symptoms to their doctor.

Are children with a congenital heart defect at an elevated risk for developing myocarditis?

In general, there is no evidence that congenital heart disease increases the risk of myocarditis.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Alexandra Yonts Alexandra Brugler Yonts, MD, is an attending physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children's National and is an assistant professor of Pediatrics at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
Craig Sable Craig Sable, MD, is the Associate Division Chief of Cardiology at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. He has served as Director of Echocardiography since 1999.

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Posts from Alexandra Brugler Yonts, MD, and Craig Sable, MD

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