INDIANAPOLIS — Last year, some parents held off on getting their teenagers the COVID vaccine following concerns of possible heart inflammation. Now, the CDC is reporting new data that finds COVID-19 itself is far more likely to lead to heart problems in teens and young men.
"It is extremely rare to happen. And it's just, the benefits outweigh the risks by a long shot," said Dr. Ryan Serrano, IU Health pediatric cardiologist.
Serrano said cases of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart, are rare. But after the vaccine rollout happened in teenage boys last year, they did see a slight increase of healthy young men suddenly having chest pain and trouble breathing.
"When that cohort of 12- to 19-year-olds, or 17-year-olds got their vaccine, we definitely saw an uptick of that," Serrano said. "But it's definitely tapered off, part of that is because I think the people who are going to get vaccinated at this point have already gotten it."
Now, the CDC reports that while cases of myocarditis following vaccinations in teens and young adults are rare, they're more likely to happen after COVID-19 infection than a vaccine.
Cases of myocarditis can be serious and even fatal.
"Most recover. Some don't. So you could be left after an infection with a lifelong chronic medical condition, if you're lucky not to pass away from it in the beginning," Serrano said. "With the COVID vaccine, not only have the cases been more mild, but I have not heard of anybody dying from COVID vaccine-related, cardiac-related illness and they tend to recover quickly as well."
Serrano hopes this new data from the CDC can convince parents who held off to finally get their teenagers the shot. When it comes to COVID-19 and myocarditis, he said it's safer to have the vaccine.
"This is safe and it's something that's important. Not just for you, but for your kid and for public health in general," he said.