Israel’s Health Ministry says young men ages 16-24 are potentially 25 times more likely to develop myocarditis after getting the Pfizer vaccine. The small country of 8.7 million has been administering the shots to teenagers since January, months earlier than America.
It identified over 200 cases in men between 16 and 30 years old, a vast majority of those happening at the younger end of that range. That is well above the normal background rate, and equates to a risk of between 1 in 3,000 and 1 in 6,000 of suffering from inflammation of muscles that line the heart wall. Researchers say they investigated two fatalities, but both are inconclusive.
Marquette County Public Health Medical Director Dr. Robert Lorinser, also a family practice physician, says until more concrete science is provided, the vaccines should still be administered to everyone it is authorized for. He cites the experience with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine earlier this year.
So far, the study has not prompted the same kind of action as other health warnings.
The threat of myocarditis from COVID-19 infection was the primary reason stated by the Big Ten in canceling its fall sports season, before eventually reversing course and completing a partial conference-only schedule. A March study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found those fears to be unfounded. In addition to the J&J investigation due to the risk of blood clots in young women, hydroxychloroquine was scrutinized for potential health effects after being recommended last spring by President Donald Trump.
Public health officials are investigating. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are currently looking at the issue in the United States for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Health officials in the US have granted emergency use authorizations for the Pfizer option for children as young as 12. Lorinser says if a link is established that could potentially change his recommendation for young men in particular. COVID’s lethality drops sharply among younger age brackets to a rate well-below seasonal influenza. CDC data says that of 583,025 deaths nationwide that have occurred with COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, only 309, or 0.05%, are in children 0-17. The data is current through June 2nd, one week ago.