JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Federal public health experts are set to hold an emergency meeting next week to address a possible link between COVID-19 vaccines and a rare heart condition among teens and young adults.
Over 226 cases of myocarditis and pericarditis have been documented in people aged 16 to 24 after they received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The number of cases of these conditions, a rare type of heart inflammation, are higher than the average rate found in the same population, according to the CDC. But researchers say more investigation is required to determine whether the vaccine is the cause.
Despite the potential link, both the CDC and local doctors continue to recommend that young Americans get vaccinated.
“I think getting the vaccine is still a very good idea,” said Dr. Mobeen Rathore, a pediatric infectious disease specialist for Wolfson Children’s Hospital. “I think it’s important to understand that part of the risks of getting the vaccine outweigh any risks that the actual disease can cause.”
The number of cases of myocarditis represents a small fraction of the more than 352 million people who got Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
“The vaccine should be given to all children, all eligible individuals, because the vaccine is safe and effective,” Dr. Rathore said. “And the risk of heart involvement is still much less than the risk of getting heart involvement when you actually get the actual infection. So you’re still better off getting the vaccine for coronavirus.”
Researchers have found reports of the condition mostly occurred in young men ages 16 to 24 after they received their second dose of the shot. More than 80 percent of those patients had a full recovery from their symptoms, according to the CDC.
Faye Yancey, a Jacksonville resident and grandmother, said Friday she would still consider encouraging her grandchildren to get a vaccine, depending on the outcome of the CDC’s investigation.
“I would keep a close eye,” Yancey told News4Jax. “I would make sure they know exactly whether it would hurt them and make sure it’s safe.”
The CDC is set to convene next Friday to evaluate the risks and benefits of the vaccine. During that meeting, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is expected to provide an update on the data related to the heart condition.