Since April, data from the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System have pointed to an increase in heart-related health issues. The Mississippi State Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating a possible link between the disease increase and COVID-19 mRNA vaccines. Photo courtesy Prasesh Shiwakoti on Unsplash
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating whether an uptick in heart inflammation across the United States might be related to COVID-19 vaccinations, after reviewing data from the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System, or VAERS. The CDC initiated the investigation specifically to look at mRNA vaccine-related myocarditis and pericarditis. Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle, while pericarditis is inflammation of the outer lining of the heart.
“It's really only been seen with the mRNA vaccine, so that's the Pfizer or Moderna, within a few days after vaccination predominantly in male adolescents and younger adults,” State Epidemiologist Paul Byers said in a May 28 press briefing. “The vast majority of these folks have had minimal symptoms, have recovered with appropriate treatment and rapidly without any long-term complications.
The Mississippi State Department of Health is reviewing VAERS reports to determine whether Mississippi has had any vaccine-related myocarditis. “That piece of the investigation is still ongoing,” Byers said.
At least one other country is reporting similar instances of the condition, with the Israeli Health Ministry citing a study that found a “probable link” between the vaccine and increase in myocarditis. The same study found that 95% of patients exhibited mild symptoms and that patients treated at a hospital for inflammation stayed no longer than four days.
State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs tweeted on May 28 that for vaccines and myocarditis, the “association thus far (remains) unclear but seems exceedingly rare with rapid recovery.”
Byers told health-care providers what to watch out for to see if patients may be experiencing related heart issues. “If you see younger adults, adolescents with chest pain, shortness of breath, the typical symptoms, think myocarditis or pericarditis,” Byers said. “Ask them about their vaccination status.”
Current information from the CDC says that patients can usually return to their normal daily activities after their symptoms improve.
Both Byers and the CDC still recommend getting the vaccine regardless of the possible link. “We still continue to recommend the vaccination for all age groups 12 and older,” Byers said.
Email Reporting Fellow Julian Mills at [email protected].