CDC, RIDOH investigating possible link between COVID-19 vaccines and rare heart condition


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The R.I. Department of Health says it is investigating at least one case of myocarditis, a condition that causes the heart muscle to become inflamed, and a possible connection to the COVID-19 vaccine.

A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) workgroup brought up several presentations on myocarditis following mRNA vaccines in its last meeting on Monday.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices COVID-19 Vaccine Safety Technical Work Group concluded there are relatively few reports of myocarditis to date, and that these cases seem to occur:

  • Predominantly in adolescents and young adults
  • More often in males than females
  • More often following dose 2 than dose 1
  • Typically within 4 days after vaccination

Dr. Philip Chan with the R.I. Department of Health says the patient with myocarditis is doing well and was discharged from the hospital after one day.

There are also “a couple of other cases” that are under investigation, according to Chan.

“I really want to emphasize that it’s very rare and uncommon,” he said.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), the incidence of myocarditis is approximately 1.5 million cases worldwide per year. The overall incidence is unknown and probably underdiagnosed, the NCBI reported.

Symptoms of myocarditis generally include chest pain, trouble breathing or irregular heartbeat, and according to Chan, while serious complications can occur, “most people do well” with supportive care.

“Some people don’t even end up in the hospital, but a lot of people do just to be monitored because of course anything concerning the heart is serious,” he explained.

According to Chan, one of the most common causes of myocarditis is a viral infection, which could include the common cold, influenza or COVID-19.

“Myocarditis is certainly uncommon, but it definitely happens,” he said. “We’re actually in the time of the year that we tend to actually see more cases of myocarditis in the hospital because we’re seeing other viral infections that cause this.”

As of Thursday, more than 544,000 people were fully vaccinated and another 100,000 were partially vaccinated, according to the R.I. Department of Health.

Chan said about 30,000 people younger than 18 have been vaccinated so far.

Health officials also reported 76 new positive cases Thursday and with more than 8,000 tests conducted the previous day, the daily positivity rate was 0.9%.

The data showed there were no additional COVID-19-related deaths in Rhode Island, so the death toll remained at 2,708.

Hospitalizations declined to 65, according to the Health Department, with 15 patients in the intensive care unit and 10 on ventilators.

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