Some countries begin giving single COVID-19 vaccine dose to kids after rare myocarditis cases

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Posted at 5:46 AM, Oct 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-19 15:13:54-04

(WXYZ) — A new strategy to prevent adverse reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine is gaining momentum overseas.

Some experts say the risk of myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart, particularly among teens after getting vaccinated, could be avoided by giving them only one dose.

According to the CDC, common symptoms of the rare condition include chest pain, shortness of breath, and feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering or pounding heart.

The consensus among health agencies is still to give kids both shots.

Myocarditis is not an unknown side effect of vaccinations. When COVID-19 vaccines first rolled out, experts knew there would be a case here or there.

What they didn't anticipate was 80+ kids reporting the condition, and in some instances, showing up at the hospital just days after getting a second dose.

"I would say the bulk did not need to be in the hospital, but our sort of lack of knowledge about the natural course and what would happen you know made everyone a little more nervous at the time," Dr. Bishara Freij said. He's the chief of pediatric infectious disease at Beaumont Health.

So far, Freij said his department has treated 10 patients with vaccine-induced myocarditis. He said every case was mild and treatable, and so far, doesn't appear to have long-lasting impacts.

"The studies are ongoing. We are part of a long-term study where we are doing MRI of the heart 3 to 6 months out to try to ascertain that indeed that there are no scars that may interfere with heart function in the future," he said.

Medical experts in Norway, Hong Kong and other countries decided the risk of getting myocarditis, no matter how rare, outweighed the benefits of full COVID-19 immunity. They're recommending kids 12 and up only get one dose of the vaccine.

To date, there are no large-scale studies on the effectiveness of getting just one shot.

"Is it really necessary and adverse reactions? I guess I wonder if they really know enough about it?" Grandmother Margaret Rusk asked.

Arris Gordon has a completely different take. Two of his five children are already fully vaccinated.

"I want them to take all three if possible you know to keep them safe--so I'm for it," Gordon said.

In June, advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention thought the data was so alarming that they took a vote on whether to halt the rollout. In the end, everyone agreed COVID-19 was a bigger threat.

While most kids who get infected don't get seriously ill, between Aug. 1 and Sept. 14, there were more than 58,000 pediatric hospitalizations nationwide.

"I can tell you, I take care of these kids, they get very sick, they get very sick so this is nonsense. Whoever is saying this is not taking care of a sick child," Freij said.

Mark Russell is a pediatric cardiologist at University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. He agrees with Freij, but said it doesn't hurt to keep an open mind.

"If it's tried in a certain country and a certain local, and it's successful, then we will learn from that and we can adjust our recommendations," Russell said.

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