Despite myocarditis concerns, teens are still seeking and getting the COVID-19 vaccine

teen covid vaccines myocarditis death
Photo via Phil Roeder/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

A surprising number of myocarditis cases are affecting adolescents and young adults who receive COVID-19 vaccines. Despite concerns, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still advising teens to get a COVID vaccine. Some teens are even doing so in defiance of parents who don’t want them to get inoculated.

A June 23 CNBC report noted that despite more than 300 cases of myocarditis or pericarditis — inflammation of the heart muscle and surrounding tissue — involving adolescents and young adults who have received one of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, a CDC panel is recommending that teens continue to get vaccinated.

The risk for teens and young adults contracting serious cases of COVID-19 is far higher than the risk of myocarditis. As an NBC News article noted, teens and young adults account for the largest proportion of new cases in the United States, according to Dr. Megan Wallace from the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic,” the article notes, “there have been 2,767 COVID-19 deaths among people ages 12-29, with 315 deaths reported in that age group since April 1, according to CDC data.”

“The benefits certainly, at this time, outweigh the potential risks,” advisory committee member Dr. Pablo Sanchez, professor of pediatrics at Ohio State University, said.

These concerns are even driving some teens to get vaccinated despite what vaccine-hesitant parents might say, joining the approximately 7 million U.S. teens and preteens (ages 12 through 17) who had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of NPR’s June 23 report.

A New York Times report on the phenomenon, released June 26, cited a Kaiser Family Foundation study. It found that only three in 10 parents of children between the ages of 12 and 17 intended to allow them to be vaccinated immediately. Many were poised to wait “for long-term safety data or the prod of a school mandate.”

“But with many teenagers eager to get shots that they see as unlocking freedoms denied during the pandemic,” the article notes, “tensions are crackling in homes in which parents are holding to a hard no.”

Some entities are considering or have already passed rules relaxing parental consent requirements for vaccines. “Last fall, the District of Columbia Council voted to allow children as young as 11 to get recommended vaccines without parental consent,” the article says. “New Jersey and New York Legislatures have bills pending that would allow children as young as 14 to consent to vaccines; Minnesota has one that would permit some children as young as 12 to consent to COVID shots.”

Other entities, including South Carolina and Oregon’s Linn County, are making the decision to restrict teenagers’ abilities to choose for themselves.

One developing case out of Michigan is feeding into vaccine concerns. As the Mercury News reported on June 25, the Saginaw County Health Department reported that a 13-year-old boy died within days of receiving a second COVID-19 vaccine dose, and federal officials are investigating whether his death is linked to the vaccine.

Sources: NBC News, NPR, New York Times, Mercury News

Continue Learning