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COVID Vaccines Connected to Rare Heart Inflammation in Youth

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Swelling of the heart appears to be a rare side effect that mostly strikes young people after vaccination for COVID-19, the CDC reported Thursday. Elizabeth Cook reports. (6-11-21)

Video Transcript

ELIZABETH COOK: CDC will be holding an emergency meeting of its advisors next week. They will discuss reports of a rare heart issue cropping up in young people following COVID vaccinations. Here's what you need to know.

The rare condition is called myocarditis. It's an inflammation of the heart muscle, usually caused by a virus. With myocarditis, the heart is not able to pump as efficiently as it should.

RITA REDBERG: I'm glad it's rare, but on the other hand, it's a very serious illness.

ELIZABETH COOK: The CDC has identified 226 reports of heart inflammation in adolescents and young adults, following a Pfizer or Moderna COVID shot. It's a higher than expected rate. The problem occurred most commonly after the second dose and overwhelmingly in males.

Given the dangers posed by the pandemic, the FDA authorized these vaccines for emergency use. They were rigorously tested, but they're not yet approved.

RITA REDBERG: I think we really need more data.

ELIZABETH COOK: Dr. Rita Redberg is a cardiologist at UCSF. She says in 50% of patients the condition goes away. In the other 50%, the heart muscle does not completely heal.

RITA REDBERG: It's very hard for us to predict who will and who won't recover.

ELIZABETH COOK: Of the known outcomes in cases involving kids, 81% fully recovered, 15 are still hospitalized and three remain in the ICU.

YVONNE MALDONADO: How many children are going to die from COVID, if we don't vaccinate them?

ELIZABETH COOK: Stanford doctor Yvonne Maldonado is on the CDC advisory panel. Until more is known, she has this advice for parents.

YVONNE MALDONADO: If parents are concerned, they should talk to their pediatric provider, because all of this information is being given through the American Academy of Pediatrics to the 67,000 pediatricians around the country.

ELIZABETH COOK: Well, experts say children are less likely to contract COVID and it's rare for them to become seriously ill. But it's important to note, about 300 have died from the disease. So far, nine million doses of the COVID vaccine have been administered to children.