By Samuetta Hill Drew
This article is the final segment in the series about the COVID-19 vaccine for children and teens which currently is the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. This is the only vaccine which has been authorized for children ages 5 years and older. mRNA (a strip of genetic material) vaccine as discussed in earlier articles enters a body’s cell and prompts the cell to build copies of spike proteins. The spike proteins are bumps that protrude from the surface of coronavirus particles. The body’s immune system then learns to spot these spike proteins and produces antibodies that block the virus from entering healthy cells in the future.
Some parents have been hesitating because of some reports that the vaccine could cause myocarditis or pericarditis. Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis is the inflammation of the outer lining of the heart. In both cases, the body’s immune system causes inflammation in response to an infection or some other trigger.
Cases of myocarditis and pericarditis have been reported after Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination of children ages 12–17 years. These reactions are rare; in one study, the risk of myocarditis after the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech in the week following vaccination was around 54 cases per million doses administered to males ages 12–17 years.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with its partners are actively monitoring reports in both after COVID-19 vaccination. Active monitoring includes reviewing data and medical records and evaluating the relationship to COVID-19 vaccination.
In Pfizer’s clinical trial for children ages 5-11 years, these were no cases of myocarditis – however, the company acknowledged that the clinical trials may not have been large enough to pick up such a rare event.
Both myocarditis and pericarditis have the following symptoms:
•Shortness of breath
•Feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering, or pounding heart
It is recommended that you seek medical attention for your child if they experience any of these specific or general symptoms, especially if it’s within a week after the COVID-19 vaccination. Most patients who receive care respond well to the medicine and rest and felt better quickly. They were able to return to their normal activities after their symptoms improved.
The information provided to address these questions was derived from the CDC as well as from CHOC (Children’s Health of Orange County) located in Orange County, California. CHOC was ranked one of the nation’s leading children’s hospitals for 2020-2021.
The CDC continues to recommend that everyone ages 5 years and older get vaccinated for COVID-19. They believe the known risks of COVID-19 illness and its related, possible severe complications, such as long-term health problems, hospitalization, and even death, far outweigh the potential risks of having a rare adverse reaction to vaccination, including the possible risk of myocarditis and pericarditis.
It is critical during this pandemic with new COVID-19 variants emerging that you do not get lax, rather continue to Keep an Eye on safety for you, your family and other loved ones.