NEW ORLEANS — The CDC is planning an emergency meeting for next week to see if there is any relationship between heart inflammation in young people and the COVID-19 vaccine.
There have been between 200-300 cases of heart inflammation conditions in 16 to 24-year-olds after getting one of the mRNA vaccines. That's the platform for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The conditions are called myocarditis and pericarditis. It's reported mostly in males.
For answers we turned to Dr. Frank Smart.
When asked if there are more cases than would be seen in the regular population, he replied: “It appears that way. The regular population gets myocarditis and pericarditis after the flu,” said Dr. Frank Smart, Chief of the Section of Cardiology and Professor of Medicine at LSU School of Medicine. He added that other viruses can cause it as well.
The vast majority of those who had the condition, recovered, but more than two dozen have ongoing symptoms, more than a dozen are in the hospital, with three in the ICU. It is unclear what preexisting conditions some of them have.
“It certainly warrants investigation and that's why it's being investigated further," Dr. Smart said.
But Dr. Smart also points out that catching the coronavirus takes the lives of young people. It also causes myocarditis at a much higher rate than the vaccine may. That happened to college football players last year.
“They were actually doing echocardiograms and screenings for myocarditis in people who had been affected with COVID,” he said.
The condition has been found in very small number of people, 0.00017384 percent. The thought is, your revved up immune system is also attacking heart cells. Myocarditis, in most people, goes away after a couple of weeks.
“Right now, I'm much more scared of SARS-CoV-2 and the consequences of it in all age groups, than I am of any commercially available vaccine,” Dr. Smart said.
His own sons have been vaccinated to protect themselves and others around them.
“I would not hesitate to give anybody else in teenage years, young adolescents, a COVID vaccine,” he said.
And he points out, the condition has not been seen with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
The CDC expected to see between 10 and 102 cases where the heart muscle, or its lining, becomes inflamed.
Symptoms are shortness of breath or pain when taking a deep breath.