Story at a glance
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, alongside the CDC and dozens of other health organizations, issued a joint statement encouraging Americans to take COVID-19 vaccinations.
- About 1,200 cases reported to vaccine safety databases suggest likely links between youth heart inflammation and a COVID-19 vaccine shot.
- The Food and Drug Administration is reportedly issuing a warning about the link for the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
After reports of heart inflammation following a COVID-19 vaccination, authorities insist that the benefits of an inoculation against the coronavirus still outweighs the risks.
“The facts are clear: this is an extremely rare side effect, and only an exceedingly small number of people will experience it after vaccination,” said the Department of Health and Human Services in a statement issued on Wednesday. “Importantly, for the young people who do, most cases are mild, and individuals recover often on their own or with minimal treatment. In addition, we know that myocarditis and pericarditis are much more common if you get COVID-19, and the risks to the heart from COVID-19 infection can be more severe.”
This statement marks a rare moment of coordinated public messaging in the COVID-19 vaccination efforts and was signed by a plethora of other organizations and agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, Big Cities Health Coalition, American Nurses Association and National Association of County and City Health Officials.
A CDC advisory panel met on the same day the statement was released to examine the reports and incidence of myocarditis. Agency officials later said that there is a “likely” link between the mild heart inflammation in adolescents and the COVID-19 vaccine. The Food and Drug Administration is reportedly issuing a warning about the link for the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, but the agency still encourages Americans to take the vaccine.
There have been about 1,200 confirmed cases of myocarditis among adolescents who received the vaccine, but there isn’t a confirmed link between these heart inflammation episodes and the vaccine. The Department of Health and Human Services statement aims to assuage some fears that this side effect is rampant.
“The facts are clear: this is an extremely rare side effect, and only an exceedingly small number of people will experience it after vaccination,” said the agency.
Government officials also added that young vaccine recipients who do experience heart inflammation tend to recover independently or with minimal treatment. Additionally, heart inflammation and other cardiac problems are more likely to occur with a COVID-19 infection — something the vaccine protects against.
“The vaccines are safe and effective, and they prevent COVID-19 illness. We strongly encourage everyone age 12 and older who are eligible to receive the vaccine under Emergency Use Authorization to get vaccinated, as the benefits of vaccination far outweigh any harm,” the statement said.