COVID-19Heart DiseaseInfectious DiseasesPreventive Medicine

PFIZER COVID-19 VACCINE AND MYOCARDITIS

In July, I wrote a blog about the incidence of myocarditis in young males after vaccination with Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine. As of June 1, 2021, there were only 323 cases reported in the U.S. out of 312 million doses of vaccine administered (an incidence of .0001%). At that time, it didn’t seem like much of a problem, but if you’re one of those 323, it’s huge.

Jump ahead three months to September and take a look at the CDC’s current stats. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services oversees an agency called the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS). It’s the bureau to which doctors report unusual reactions to vaccinations. Having just tried to navigate its complex labyrinth of data, I can tell you it’s the most complicated reporting system I’ve ever seen! Reporting an event is as complicated as it could be, and finding data on a particular reaction is impossible. It is in this context that we look at the data compiled by the CDC.

As of September 15, there were 1491 reports of suspected myocarditis (heart muscle inflammation) and pericarditis (inflammation of the sac around the heart) after COVID-19 vaccination in patients 30 years of age and younger. Of these cases, the FDA and CDC confirmed that 890 vaccine recipients definitely had myocarditis. The cases occurred mostly in young males vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine, and most had “non-serious symptoms. Fourteen deaths were reported, but there was no pattern indicating the vaccine caused them.” Really?

As of September 16, 2021, 180 million people (54.1%) had been vaccinated. I was unable to find what percentage of those patients were between the ages 12 and 24 years old, but I’m certain it is small compared to the number of people over 65. Some 83% of people over 65 are fully vaccinated while only 63% of 12-24 year olds are. Thus it’s hard to tell if this is a serious complication of just a blip. My impression in July was it was a blip, but I now think it’s something that needs to be considered in the recommendation for a blanket vaccination program. Maybe more study of this problem is warranted. I think it most definitely is. 

Yes, 890 cases and 14 deaths out of 180 million people is not very many (.0005%). But could VAERS’ stats be inaccurate? As difficult as it is to report events, I suspect many physicians have given up trying as I did. Also, we don’t know if these 890 had any underlying propensity to develop myocarditis. That question needs to be answered. Is there a marker, or a simple test we can do to detect myocarditis in young adults? I don’t think so, but if there were it would identify those who could potentially have an adverse vaccine reaction, and COVID-19 vaccine would be contraindicated for them.

Addendum: My wife had a reaction to the second Pfizer shot she received. I reported it to VAERS as I thought I should. I never received confirmation of my report by email, U.S. Mail, or phone and really wonder if they received my message. The lack of confirmation makes me wonder how far their statistics vary from actual numbers. 

Myocarditis remains a concern for young males vaccinated with Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. It needs to be a concern of any young male seeking to be vaccinated. 

Reference: CDC.gov/COVID-19-vaccines

News from the CDC. Adolescent Myocarditis after COVID-19 Vaccination is rare. JAMA 2021 Sep 14;326(10):902.

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