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New data confirm the risk of cardiac issues after a COVID-19 infection is greater than after a dose of an mRNA vaccine among all age groups.
“These findings support continued use of recommended mRNA COVID-19 vaccines among all eligible persons aged ≥5 years,” authors wrote in a new Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
They analyzed electronic health record data from January 2021 through January 2022 on more than 15 million people from 40 health care systems, looking at myocarditis, pericarditis and multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS; which usually involves the heart) after infection and myocarditis or pericarditis after vaccination.
Males ages 12-17 years had the highest incidence of one myocarditis or pericarditis after a second dose of vaccine, affecting about 27-36 of every 100,000. However, about 151-180 of every 100,000 experienced a cardiac issue after infection.
Among males ages 5-11 years, no cardiac cases were reported after a second dose of a vaccine compared to 93-133 of every 100,000 after infection.
About two to five of every 100,000 teen girls experienced a cardiac issue after a second vaccine dose compared to 63-93 of every 100,000 after infection.
Among females ages 5-11 years, no cardiac were issues reported after a second vaccine dose, while 67-94 of every 100,000 experienced a heart issue after infection.
Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the interval between the first and second doses of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines could be stretched to eight weeks to reduce the small risk of myocarditis even further. This guidance applies to people 12 years and older who are not moderately or severely immunocompromised and may especially benefit males ages 12-39 years.
About 28% of children ages 5-11 years and 58% of those ages 12-17 years are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
- CDC guidance for clinicians on myocarditis after COVID-19 vaccination
- Information from the CDC on clinical considerations for COVID-19 vaccines
- AAP guidance on providing COVID-19 vaccines to children and adolescents
- Information for parents from HealthyChildren.org on preparing children and adolescents for COVID-19 vaccination