Only 15 Myocarditis Cases Found Among Israeli Adolescents Vaccinated Against COVID

Hundreds of thousands of Israelis aged 12-15 have received a coronavirus vaccine shot, and a new study shows it's very rare for them to develop myocarditis

Yaron Kelner
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An adolescent gets a coronavirus vaccine shot in Givatayim, last year.
An adolescent gets a coronavirus vaccine shot in Givatayim, last year.Credit: Hadas Parush
Yaron Kelner

Fifteen of the hundreds of thousands of Israelis aged 12 to 15 who received Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine developed myocarditis, the Health Ministry said Thursday.

According to data released by the ministry, one person in this age group was affected after the first dose, 12 were affected after the second one, and two after the third one. All had only light symptoms and were released from hospital after a few days. So far, no cases of myocarditis have been reported in Israel among the 5-11 age group.

An Israeli study focusing on myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, among those aged 12-15 was published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine. The study surveyed 13 cases of people in this age group who were hospitalized after receiving the vaccine between June 2 and October 20 of last year, a period in which 404,000 in this age group received the first dose and 326,000 received the second one. As for the additional two cases, investigators believe they are unlikely to be related to the vaccine because of the length of time between administration of the shot and the occurrence of myocarditis, the study said.

According to the findings, the risk of boys aged 12 to 15 contracting myocarditis after the second dose of the vaccine is 1 in every 12,361, while the risk for girls is 1 per 144,439. The researchers noted that this risk is low in comparison to that of people in the 16-24 age group, but is slightly higher than the risk published by the Centers for Disease Control in the U.S.

So far, 440,000 youths in the 12-15 age group have received the first dose, 364,000 have received the second dose, and 88,000 have received the third dose. In the 5-11 age group, 315,000 have received their first dose, with 167,000 receiving a second dose.

The study was conducted by Prof. Dror Mevorach from Hadassah Hospital’s Ein Kerem campus, together with the director-general of the Health Ministry, Dr. Nachman Ash; the head of public health services at the Health Ministry, Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis; and researchers from Hadassah and Shaare Zedek hospitals and from Haifa University.

“Is it advisable to get vaccinated despite these figures? Definitely,” says Prof. Mevorach. “Some people told me to be careful, since people may not get vaccinated if they know you can get myocarditis afterwards, but I say exactly the opposite. The public must know that doctors view medical truth and transparency as an upmost value. Only this way can we bring people in while getting rid of fake news.”

This study was preceded by another one last October that found 142 people out of 5.4 million who had been vaccinated in Israel had experienced myocarditis. It found that the highest risk was in the 16-19 age group: 1 in 6,637 for boys and 1 in 99,853 for girls among those who’d been vaccinated.

Myocarditis can be caused by a variety of viruses, including the coronavirus. It appears mainly among young males and is characterized by symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath and heart palpitations. In the vast majority of cases it is a mild illness, passing after a short hospitalization. It is rare, becoming rarer as the age of a vaccinated person rises. The rate of people with myocarditis among those with COVID is 1 out of 200, much higher than the rate associated with the vaccine.

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