On June 23, a group of scientists informed the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that mRNA vaccines (manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) have a “likely association” with cardiac risks for younger people. Understandably, this still attracts a lot of attention. Here’s what you should know about COVID-19 vaccines and heart problems.

The heart problems in question are known as myocarditis and pericarditis

These each relate to inflammation of the heart and the lining around it. Although they sound scary, both of them tend to clear up on their own or with minimal treatment, especially if caught early on. They can be accompanied by symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, tiredness, and irregular heartbeat, and they can be caused by viruses and bacteria.
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They are a very rare side effect of the vaccine

Since April, about 1,000 cases have been reported in people vaccinated with mRNA-based syringes, the CDC says. That may sound like a lot, but more than 300 million mRNA vaccine doses have been administered in the United States to date. One of influential doctors including CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, signed statement notes that myocarditis and pericarditis are far more common in people who contract COVID-19 than people who receive the vaccine.

Certain groups seem to be at higher risk

Adolescent boys and young men seem to develop these side effects more often than other groups, according to the CDC, and they are more likely to occur after a second injection. In general, regardless of COVID-19 side effects, men are more likely than women to develop heart inflammation, and it is often diagnosed in younger adults.

Experts continue to recommend vaccination

Given the known benefits of COVID-19 vaccination, doctors still recommend the vaccinations for people of all ages. “It is the best way to protect yourself, your loved ones, your community and to return safely and quickly to a more normal lifestyle,” demanded the group of doctors in their joint statement.

This story was originally published in TIME’s Coronavirus Letter newsletter.


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