The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is grappling with another public relations challenge after the disclosure that heart inflammation, known as myocarditis, has hit some teens and young people after Covid-19 vaccination.
The news of potential heart-related concerns with the Pfizer and Moderna RNA vaccines comes on the heels of blood clot worries linked to the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
At a May 17 meeting of CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, there were "several presentations" about myocarditis following RNA vaccines. Myocarditis can weaken the heart and cause formation of deadly blood clots. The report on CDC's website doesn't say how many cases have been reported, and characterized them as "mild" and "relatively few."
But concern was apparently expressed at the meeting by representatives from the Department of Defense, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, Vaccine Safety Datalink, the Veteran’s Administration, and the Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment; all off whom gave presentations or updates at the meeting.
According to CDC, the reports of heart inflammation occurred:
- predominantly in adolescents and young adults,
- more often in males than females,
- more often following dose 2 than dose 1, and
- typically within 4 days after vaccination
The Johnson and Johnson vaccine was temporarily removed from the market in the U.S. earlier this year while health officials studied reports of blood clot injuries. Among them was an 18-year old teen named Emma Burkey, who got sick about a week after the Johnson and Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, and ended up having three brain surgeries related to blood clots and seizures.
When use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine resumed, it was accompanied by a new warning about blood clots.
The European Medicines Agency has concluded blood clots, combined with low levels of blood platelets, are also a "rare" side effect of the Astra Zeneca vaccine, which is not currently being used in the U.S.
The European group says it "carried out an in-depth review of 62 cases of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis and 24 cases of splanchnic vein thrombosis reported in the EU drug safety database (EudraVigilance) as of 22 March 2021, 18 of which were fatal."
The Israeli Ministry of Health recently announced it is monitoring for heart inflammation after Pfizer's vaccine due to some cases being reported.
As with nearly every report of vaccine adverse events, CDC typically says the illness may be coincidental and not related to vaccination, and -- in the event it is related -- the benefit of the vaccine outweighs the risks.
However, experts say the calculation is different when it comes to the risk vs. benefit for young people and Covid-19 vaccines. That's because scientists say the vast majority of children and young people fight off Covid-19 without having any symptoms at all, then are presumed to be immune. Further, many scientists say evidence shows young people do not routinely transmit Covid-19 infection to others. Those findings have led to robust debate as to whether young people should take the risk of getting an experimental vaccine in the first place.
Plans to restart the smallpox vaccination program in the U.S. back in 2002 after the 9/11 Islamic extremist terrorist attacks were eventually scuttled after reports of serious side effects including, according to CDC, "A few people who...developed heart inflammation (myocarditis), inflammation of the lining of the heart (pericarditis), or a combination of both (myopericarditis)." There were at least 11 cases of the unusual heart inflammation among military troops who got the smallpox vaccine, and three civilian deaths under investigation.
NBC News reporter David Bloom, 39, died of an apparent blood clot shortly after he received anthrax and smallpox vaccinations in 2003 to embed with the U.S. military. I discovered, as a reporter with CBS News, that authorities had not properly recorded Bloom's death as a potential vaccine-related adverse event. After my reporting, an adviser added Bloom's death to the database for consideration.
The Covid-19 vaccines are all experimental in nature, being tested on the human population in real time, with new safety data emerging as more people get the shots and as more time passes. Many public health officials say they believe the risks that come with getting Covid-19 are greater than the risks that come with Covid-19 vaccines.
The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is closely monitoring for Covid-19 vaccine adverse events. However, the CDC group's credibility took a major hit earlier this year when it was revealed that the entire scientific team had signed onto false information about what studies showed about Covid-19 vaccine effectiveness in people who already had Covid-19.
The Advisory Committee incorrectly claimed that studies showed the Covid-19 vaccines were effective in people who have already had Covid-19. In fact, the opposite was true.
When the false information was flagged by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky), CDC officials admitted the error and promised a correction but continued to disseminate the false information on its website and to medical professionals. Eventually, when a correction was made, it was so confusing that it seemed to double down on the original mistake.
When it comes to blood clots, according to Yale Medicine, early symptoms requiring medical consultation include:
- Severe headache
- New neurologic symptoms
- Severe abdominal pain
- Shortness of breath
- Leg swelling
- Tiny red spots on the skin (petechiae)
- New or easy bruising