CDC investigating heart inflammation after COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Spectrum Health says they’re evaluating one person after they reported chest pain following a COVID-19 vaccine. 

This comes one day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced an uptick in myocarditis and pericarditis in young men following the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna vaccines.

Physicians say the conditions cause inflammation of the heart and chest pain. Data shows the conditions disproportionately impact men in their early 20s and teen boys but impacts women too.  

A CDC advisory committee held an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss a potential causal link between the increase in heart issues and mRNA vaccines.

“The amount of myocarditis or pericarditis being observed in the United States right now is increased from what it would be otherwise at this time of year,” said Dr. Rosemary Olivero with Spectrum Health. “This really just shows us this is abnormal. This is something we need to pay attention to.”

Olivero says the myocarditis or pericarditis following a COVID-19 shot are extremely rare and people currently face less than a 1% chance of experiencing this particular complication. Olivero says the conditions do occur throughout the year and can be triggered by other viruses or infections. 

“The vast majority of these patients, when they received medical care, had pretty simple interventions of anti-inflammatory medications and a very nice recovery afterwards. Approximately 88% have made a very good recovery,” Olivero said about the CDC data. 

So far, the CDC reports 268 cases of pericarditis and myocarditis following COVID-19 vaccines. VAERS data shows 20 cases have been reported in Michigan. 

As the CDC looks to see if the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are in anyway linked to the increase in heart issues, doctors in Michigan say they’re still encouraging people to get vaccinated. 

“The most important thing is not to be alarmed,” said Dr. Joseph Vettukattil with Spectrum Health. “We would be fully supporting vaccinations at this time and will be at the same time carefully monitoring so our patients are safe.”

Spectrum says people run a much bigger risk of complications after catching COVID-19. 

“Of course we take any safety concern really seriously but when you think about such a rare vaccine related event, the likelihood of it happening to you or your child after receiving the vaccine is so exceedingly low,” said Olivero. “And then you compare that with being unvaccinated against COVID-19, and COVID-19 will be circulating for years to come, there’s a very high likelihood that you’ll be infected with COVID-19 if you’re not vaccinated.”

The CDC advisory committee will hold another meeting next Friday on these issues. Spectrum says due to the number of people who have recovered, they’re not anticipating a pause of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. 

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