GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — In June, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that it was investigating reports of an extremely rare side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine that was affecting young teens and adolescents who had gotten a shot.
The CDC stated that only a handful of people had contracted myocarditis from the second dose of vaccine. This is an inflammatory disease of the heart. It is rare to see this side effect in vaccines.
This side effect was most common in teenage boys and young men, but it is rare in adults over 18.
The agency says the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the risks but advised those who got the shot to keep an eye out for side effects.
Dr. Rosemary Olivero, who works at the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has worked with the families of six local teens — five boys and one girl — who have been diagnosed with post-vaccine myocarditis in recent months.
Olivero explained that the typical vaccine side effects include fatigue, fever and achy muscle pains within days. “Then there was pain in the chest. One patient had pain down their arm.”
Olivero explained that patients came from various parts of Grand Rapids, and they had few common health problems.
Olivero said none of the teens was very ill. All were given ibuprofen at the hospital and discharged.
The CDC has confirmed that most patients with post-vaccine heart disease respond to medication and can usually return to normal activities within a short time.
She stated that all the families of myocarditis patients said they didn’t regret having their loved one vaccinated.
Olivero stated, “They have taken it in stride quite well, and, in fact, all of the families that I’ve met said, I wouldn’t change anything.'”
The bad news? Patients who were athletes had their activities halted for several months.
“It can be devastating to lose three months of your youth athlete status and not be able to exercise for three months. Olivero said.
She is happy to report that some of those who had myocarditis have been back in competition.
Olivero stated that some of the earliest athletes in our youth have resumed their athletic careers and are doing well. They should be rechecked by cardiology because we don’t know the long-term effects.
Olivero acknowledged that although the side effects are rare, she understood why people might be concerned about whether or not they will receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Her advice? Talk to your doctor about what’s happening in your case.
Olivero stated that “we can help reduce this really confusing information hopefully into useful information for families.” The risks associated with the vaccine are much lower than those of getting real natural COVID.
Read more about the CDC’s findings on myocarditis and pericarditis and vaccine use here.
This story was originally published by Tessa DiTirro on Scripps station WXMI in Grand Rapids, Michigan.