Adolescent Boys at Higher Risk of Hospitalization From Pfizer Vaccine Than From COVID


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Healthy boys may be more likely to be admitted to the hospital with heart inflammation from the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine than with COVID itself, according to a new pre-print study.

U.S. researchers found boys between the ages of 12 and 15, with no underlying medical conditions, were four to six times more likely to be diagnosed with vaccine-related myocarditis than they were to be hospitalized with COVID.

To identify children with evidence of cardiac injury, the retrospective epidemiological assessment reviewed injury reports submitted between Jan.1 and June 18 to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) of adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 who received an mRNA COVID vaccine.

The researchers identified a total of 257 cardiac adverse events (CAE) using inclusion criteria that met the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) working case definition of myocarditis.

The post-vaccination CAE rate was highest in 12- to 15-year-old boys following their second dose of Pfizer.

Dr. Tracy Høeg, physician, epidemiologist and associate researcher at UC Davis, found the rate of myocarditis after two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine to be 162.2 cases per million for healthy 12- to 15-year-old boys, and 94 cases per million for healthy 16- to 17-year-old boys. The equivalent rates for girls were 13.4 and 13 cases per million, respectively.

At current U.S. infection rates, the risk of a healthy adolescent being taken to the hospital with COVID in the next 120 days is about 44 per million, they said.

Most children who experienced myocarditis had symptoms within days of the second dose of Pfizer’s vaccine, though a similar side-effect was seen with Moderna’s COVID vaccine. About 86% of the boys affected required hospital care, the authors said.

“Further research into the severity and long-term sequelae of post-vaccination CAE is warranted,” the researchers concluded. “Quantification of the benefits of the second vaccination dose and vaccination in addition to natural immunity in this demographic may be indicated to minimize harm.” The study has yet to be peer-reviewed.

In a Tweet, Høeg said the CDC’s estimates of myocarditis in boys and young men are outliers — Israel and Canada are reporting similar rates of post-vaccine myocarditis at 1 in 6,000.