Reports of heart inflammation among a small fraction of Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine recipients, predominantly males under 30, are under review as an advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to meet Friday to further discuss the issue.
Dr. Tom Shimabukuro, deputy director of the Immunization Safety Office at the CDC, noted 275 reports of myocarditis and pericarditis among vaccinated males aged 16-24 as of May 31 against a backdrop of over 12 million administered doses. While younger groups aged 12-24 accounted for nearly 9% of all administered doses, the group comprised over half (52.5%) of 528 reports relating to heart issues across all age groups.
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“We clearly have an imbalance there,” Shimabukuro said last week during the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) virtual meeting.
The number of observed reports among those aged 16-24 exceeded the expected; for instance, while there were two to 19 expected cases of myocarditis/pericarditis in teens aged 16-17, 79 cases occurred.
Cases occurred more often after second doses, and chest pain was said to be a “hallmark” symptom. Among 475 preliminary reports – not all will qualify as true myocarditis/pericarditis cases, Shimabukuro said — 270 patients were discharged, 180 of which fully recovered from symptoms, while 19% were still experiencing symptoms or had an unknown status.
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Last week, Shimabukuro said an analysis of preliminary reports was in progress, and officials were conducting follow-up to obtain medical records to confirm cases of heart issues.
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is scheduled to provide an update on COVID-19 vaccine safety on Friday June 18, including myocarditis following mRNA vaccinations.