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Experts: Benefits of COVID vaccine outweigh small heart risk

by Assoicated Press
June 26, 2021

NEW YORK (AP) Federal officials said Wednesday they plan to strengthen cautions about a rare side effect of some COVID-19 vaccines – chest pain and heart inflammation, mostly among teenagers and young adults.

But in an unusual joint statement, top U.S. government health officials, medical organizations, laboratory and hospital associations and others stressed the overriding benefit of the vaccines.

“The facts are clear: this is an extremely rare side effect, and only an exceedingly small number of people will experience it after vaccination. Importantly, for the young people who do, most cases are mild, and individuals recover often on their own or with minimal treatment,” the statement said.

There does seem to be a link between the Pfizer and Moderna shots and some cases of heart inflammation, experts said at a meeting Wednesday of an outside panel that advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on vaccinations.

The problem appears to be most common in young men after they receive their second of two doses, but it is nevertheless rare overall: There have been 323 confirmed reports of the inflammation in people younger than 30, and the vast majority recovered from their symptoms.

That risk “seems to me, and to many others, to be much lower than the risk of COVID,” said Dr. Brian Feingold, a University of Pittsburgh heart specialist who is not a member of the panel.

There have been nearly 2,800 COVID-19 deaths among adolescents and young adults, and more than 4,000 youths have suffered a dangerous condition called MIS-C that appears to be linked to the coronavirus. COVID-19 itself also can cause heart inflammation.

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