Top federal health officials, professional groups say COVID-19 vaccines safe for adolescents

Top federal health officials, professional groups say COVID-19 vaccines safe for adolescents
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Top administration health officials joined with a host of groups representing physicians, hospitals, nurses and others to endorse the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for adolescents.

The joint statement from more than a dozen federal and professional groups on Wednesday followed a meeting of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's vaccine advisory panel regarding reports of heart inflammation in young adults after use of either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

"The facts are clear: this is an extremely rare side effect, and only an exceedingly small number of people will experience it after vaccination. Importantly, for the young people who do, most cases are mild, and individuals recover often on their own or with minimal treatment," the groups said.

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Officials are tracking about 1,200 initial reports of the rare heart inflammation following doses of mRNA coronavirus vaccines, including about 480 who were younger than age 30.

There have been more than 300 million vaccine doses administered to date.

Researchers told the panel the risk is higher after the second dose of an mRNA vaccine than the first, and much higher in men than in women, but they do not know why. 

Still, the side effects were extremely rare and mild, they said, and the benefits greatly outweigh the risks. Myocarditis and pericarditis are much more common from COVID-19, and the risks from COVID-19 infection can be more severe. 

The statement Wednesday was issued by the CDC, the Department of Health and Human Services, and groups including the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, and the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

"The vaccines are safe and effective, and they prevent COVID-19 illness. They will help protect you and your family and keep your community safe. 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 groups said.