UPDATE (2/23/22): In an update published Feb. 22, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said a longer interval of time between the two initial doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines could be optimal for some people over the age of 12, especially males between the ages of 12 to 39 years old.
Extending the interval between the first and second dose to eight weeks might reduce the risk of myocarditis, according to the CDC. While rare, the CDC says the relative risk for myocarditis is higher in males ages 12 to 39.
A shorter interval -- three weeks for Pfizer and four weeks for Moderna -- between the first and second doses remains the recommended interval for people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised, adults ages 65 years and older, and others who need rapid protection due to increased concern about community transmission or risk of severe disease. The original story remains as published below:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), since April 2021, there have been nearly 600 cases of heart inflammation, also known as myocarditis and pericarditis, reported after a person, particularly an adolescent or young adult, has received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna) in the U.S.
While the CDC says these reported cases of heart inflammation are rare after immunization, VERIFY viewer Elizabeth wants to know if they are more common in men.
Are reported cases of heart inflammation after COVID-19 vaccination more common in boys and young men?
Yes, reported cases of heart inflammation after COVID-19 vaccination is more common in boys and young men. The CDC, however, says these cases are rare.
WHAT WE FOUND
Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis is inflammation of the outer lining of the heart, according to definitions on the CDC’s website. In both cases, the CDC says the “body’s immune system causes inflammation in response to an infection or some other trigger.”
As of July 6, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), which is a database that contains information on unverified reports of adverse events (illnesses, health problems and/or symptoms) following immunization with the COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use in the U.S., has received 971 reports of myocarditis or pericarditis among people ages 30 and younger who have received a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the CDC. Following medical record reviews, the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have confirmed 594 reports of myocarditis or pericarditis.
According to the CDC, these confirmed cases have occurred mostly in male adolescents and young adults over the age of 16, and have been reported typically within several days after the person has received a second dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
The CDC recommends that people over the age of 12 should still get fully vaccinated “given the risk of COVID-19 illness and related, possibly severe complications, such as long-term health problems, hospitalization, and even death.” The agency says to be on the lookout for the following symptoms of myocarditis and pericarditis after vaccination:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering, or pounding heart
The CDC suggests that a person should seek medical care right away if they notice any of the above symptoms within a week after being vaccinated.
“The known and potential benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the known and potential risks, including the possible risk of myocarditis or pericarditis,” said the CDC. “Most patients who received care responded well to treatment and rest and quickly felt better. Patients can usually return to their normal daily activities after their symptoms improve.”
On June 25, the FDA announced that patient and provider fact sheets for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines have been revised to include a warning about myocarditis and pericarditis.
More from VERIFY: Yes, there have been reports of heart inflammation in adolescents after COVID-19 vaccination, but cause not yet known
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