3.17.22 – Reducing the Risk of Myocarditis

Hi, I’m Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman, the health officer for Anne Arundel County. Welcome to our Weekly Health Update. The COVID vaccines, masks, at home testing, and treatment are how you can continue to protect you and your loved ones from COVID. Today, let’s talk about updated vaccination recommendations.

What’s the new recommendation?
For some people ages 12 and older, particularly for males ages 12 through 39, a longer interval of 8 weeks between the first and second dose of mRNA vaccine, either Pfizer or Moderna, may be appropriate to further reduce the risk of myocarditis or pericarditis. Additionally, the risk of myocarditis is lower for Pfizer compared to Moderna and so choosing Pfizer is recommended for the primary vaccine series or booster in this group.

What is the risk of myocarditis?
Young males are six times more likely to get myocarditis from being infected with COVID, compared to those who were vaccinated with a mRNA vaccine against COVID. Myocarditis, after vaccination is typically limited to 1 to 2 days and easily treatable. Myocarditis after infection with COVID can be more severe and have longer lasting consequences. It’s why getting vaccinated is so important, it reduces the risk of the severe consequences of COVID.

How did the scientists make this recommendation?
While the vaccine is safe and effective, scientists are always working on ways to make vaccines even safer and more effective. The recommendation was to get the second Pfizer dose 3 weeks after the first dose or the second Moderna dose 4 weeks after the first dose, but not everyone did that. When scientists looked at the data for myocarditis and effectiveness, they found that people who got the second shot 8 weeks later had a lower rate of myocarditis and a lower rate of severe infection. Seeing a change that makes the vaccination safer and more effective was a welcome finding.

Stay safe and be kind to yourself and others. We’ll see you next week.

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