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This COVID-19 vaccine side effect is extremely rare

The eight cases admitted to Rady Hospital for myocarditis represent 0.007% of all vaccine recipients in that age range.

SAN DIEGO — A new warning for parents after the CDC finds a connection between the COVID-19 vaccines and an extremely rare side effect of heart inflammation in teens and young adults. 

Doctors are still saying the benefits outweigh risks for getting the vaccine. CDC officials now say they plan to update their guidance to say that anyone who suffers heart inflammation after one dose of the vaccine can defer a second shot. 

And the FDA is planning to put together a product warning that notes the risk.

“Parents should know that if their kids complain of chest pain or any shortness of breath, particularly in the few days following the vaccine, that it could be related to this reaction,” said Dr. Mark Sawyer, an infectious disease specialist.  

He is talking about a heart condition called myocarditis, which is not uncommon at Rady Children's Hospital and can be caused by many things.

“The difference is it seems to be getting triggered by the vaccine,” said Dr. Sawyer, “There is a little soreness in the heart muscle and if it’s severe, it affects the heart’s function.  But in the cases we’ve seen, they have not been severe.”

So far, Rady Hospital has seen a total of eight cases involving adolescent boys with the heart symptoms, but Dr. Sawyer has good news. 

“It’s rare and it’s not turning out to be very serious although kids are being hospitalized as a precaution. They tend to get better very quickly within a couple of days and go home,” said Dr. Sawyer.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, held a meeting Wednesday with the CDC to review data on the myocarditis side effects experienced by some people after receiving the vaccine.  Here locally, according to the county, 105,308 people age 12 to 17 have been vaccinated. 

That means the eight cases admitted to Rady Hospital for myocarditis represent 0.007% of all vaccine recipients in that age range.

“This is a rare event and much rarer than kids getting put in the hospital with the COVID disease,” said Dr. Sawyer.

For any parents who remain unsure as to whether the vaccine is safe for kids, Dr. Sawyer had this to say.  “Choosing not to vaccinate because you’re concerned about this rare side effect puts your child at risk of getting actual COVID disease, which we’re learning can have short-term consequences and also prolonged symptoms following COVID, and until we understand what that is going to look like, it’s much better to get vaccinated.”

WATCH RELATED: What you need to know about myocarditis and the COVID-19 vaccine (May 2021)