Vaccinations will come with heart inflammation warning; Memphis pediatrician says vaccine benefits outweigh risks

MEMPHIS, Tennessee (WMC) — When you arrive for a COVID-19 vaccine from now on, comes a new warning of the possibility of a very rare heart condition.

However, a mid-south pediatrician said the benefits outweigh the risks.

“I have no reservations in recommending that all children 12 years and older, adults and family members be fully vaccinated against COVID,” said Dr. Janet Geiger of the Baptist Medical Group.

Geiger says she is very encouraged by the studies on COVID-19 vaccines in children and young adults. However, some side effects have been reported, particularly involving the heart.

There have been about 300 confirmed cases of something called myocarditis or pericarditis, which is inflamed heart muscle or tissue around the heart.

The cases were most common in men in their teens and early 20s with symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest pain occurring a week after the second dose.

“So, parents are obviously very nervous. You know as a parent that you don’t always hear the numbers, you just want to know if my child will get it. I don’t care if it’s one in a million,” Geiger said.

Nearly 170,000 vaccine doses of COVID-19 have already been administered to 12 to 20-year-olds in Tennessee. It is unclear if anyone has had heart problems.

Geiger says parents should weigh the benefits against the risks of vaccination. She says heart inflammation due to vaccination is traditionally very mild and does not require hospitalization.

The same condition that results from actually becoming infected with COVID-19 is often serious.

Geiger said: “And when asked if we’ve seen side effects from the vaccine, we haven’t. But Have We Seen Myocarditis From COVID? We have. Is it scary? Very scary.”

On Wednesday, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices agreed that a warning about the potential risk should be added to the FDA’s official fact sheets about the vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still recommends vaccinating every child over the age of 12.

“For the most part, those cases are rare, 300 out of 20 million,” said CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization says vaccinating children is not a high priority at this time, as the symptoms and effects of COVID-19 tend to be less severe.

Geiger says that in countries where there is a shortage of vaccines, she would agree, but that’s not the case in the United States.

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