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Healthy You

Youth Heart Problems Related to COVID-19 Vaccine are Incredibly Rare

Many parents have fears swirling through their minds about a possible connection between COVID-19 vaccines and heart problems in young adults and adolescents.

Jason Robin, MD, NorthShore Cardiovascular Institute, said the connection is extremely rare and that the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks. Even so, he is fielding many questions from concerned parents.

Teen gets vaccinated

“If I think about all the potential risks that come along with getting COVID-19 and the minute potential of having any side effects relating to the vaccine, it is just clear that the benefits of getting the vaccine far outweigh any risk,” Dr. Robin said.

Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle, and can result in cardiac dysfunction and arrhythmias. Symptoms can include chest pain, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, fatigue and even passing out. In children, viral infections are the most common cause of myocarditis.

The cases of heart inflammation have been linked to the two mRNA COVID-19 vaccines — Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — and are more frequently reported after the second dose of the vaccine. The cases tend to be in male young adults and adolescents age 16 or older.

Symptoms tend to be benign and appear within seven days of vaccination, Dr. Robin said. If you or your child does show symptoms of myocarditis, Dr. Robin suggests seeing a pediatrician shortly thereafter to determine possible next steps.

More than 177 million people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in the United States, and just over 1,200 cases of heart inflammation have been reported, which Dr. Robin said shows how truly rare the cases are.

Researchers have estimated that for every one million doses administered to males age 12 to 17, the vaccines may cause 70 cases of myocarditis at the most.

More importantly, COVID-19 vaccines will prevent at least 5,700 COVID-19 cases, more than 200 hospitalizations, and at least two deaths in adolescent boys. No deaths have been linked to heart inflammation related to the COVID-19 vaccine.