November 15, 2021
A rare heart condition called myocarditis may have you wondering if I should get the COVID vaccine? Should I have my child vaccinated?
To help us understand this heart condition and if there is significant risk from COVID-19 or the vaccine, we reached out to cardiologist Brett Sealove, MD, chief of cardiology at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, and Meghan Tozzi, MD, a pediatric cardiologist at Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center, who is part of the Pediatric COVID Recovery Center team.
What is myocarditis and pericarditis?
Myocarditis is the inflammation of the heart muscle and pericarditis is inflammation in the outer layer of the heart; both are typically a response to a viral infection.
Can you get myocarditis from COVID-19?
Yes, you can get myocarditis from the COVID-19 virus.
In a study by the CDC, patients infected with COVID-19 were 16 times more likely to develop myocarditis than patients without COVID-19.
Can you get myocarditis from the COVID-19 vaccine?
The CDC has reported that heart inflammation is a rare side effect that can occur from the mRNA COVID vaccines, Pfizer or Moderna.
The reported cases have been observed more frequently in young males, after the second dose and within days of vaccination.
“We’ve seen myocarditis in older children and young adults as a result of the vaccine, but even in the highest-risk group, 16- to 29-year-olds, the risk is one in 40,000, which is 0.003%,” explains Dr. Tozzi out.
“The risk of getting myocarditis from getting vaccinated is significantly lower than getting myocarditis (or getting significantly sick) from the COVID virus itself,” explains Dr. Sea love out. “The answer is you want to prevent any COVID infection in your body, including COVID that may affect your heart.”
Symptoms of myocarditis and pericarditis include:
- shortness of breath
- Palpitations, racing or fluttering
- Dizziness or fatigue
“For children, the symptoms can be a little unclear, as it can present itself in a similar way to the common cold or other viruses,” adds Dr. Tozzi ready. “If your child has COVID-19 or has recently received the vaccine, keep an eye out for symptoms and contact their doctor if you’re concerned.”
How do you treat myocarditis?
“It’s usually quite conservative – watch, wait and let them fix themselves. There really is no good cure for myocarditis treatment other than supportive care,” explains Dr. Sea love out. “The vast majority of these cases resolve on their own.”
“It’s a fairly mild version of myocarditis that develops after vaccination. Children tend to pick up quickly, get well on their own and go back to school in a few days,” adds Dr. Tozzie. “And again, the risk of myocarditis from the vaccine is very small and is expected to be an even lower risk in the five to 11-year-old age group.”
Key learning points
- Vaccination is your best protection against serious illness from COVID-19, including risks such as myocarditis.
- Myocarditis is more common in those who have the COVID-19 virus than in those who have been vaccinated.
“I would argue that vaccinating and vaccinating your children is the number one priority, rather than concerns about a relatively low-risk, reversible complication of vaccination,” adds Dr. Sea love.
“The benefit of vaccination, across the age spectrum, appears to far outweigh the risk of myocarditis,” concludes Dr. sealove.
Next steps and resources:
The materials provided through HealthU are for general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your doctor for individual care.