Myocarditis and pericarditis have been officially listed in the UK and Europe as a rare side effect of the Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines, following a similar move by regulators in the US last month, the BBC reports.
The European Medicines Agency said the side effects were more common in young men, but they remained extremely rare. The agency strongly emphasised that the benefits of the vaccines far outweigh the risks of remaining unvaccinated.
Despite the low risk, doctors are encouraging people to be aware of the symptoms of the conditions, which is an inflammation of the heart muscle in the case of myocarditis, and inflammation of the fluid-filled sac the heart sits in, in the case of pericarditis.
Patients may experience chest pain, a feeling of breathlessness, and a pounding or fluttering heartbeat. Anyone experiencing these symptoms is advised to seek immediate medical attention.
The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has been investigating the link between the conditions and the vaccines. It reported: “A consistent pattern of cases occurring more frequently in young males and shortly after the second dose of the vaccines.”
“These reports are extremely rare, and the events are typically mild with individuals usually recovering within a short time with standard treatment and rest,” it added.
So far out of 177 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine which have been given, there have been 145 recorded cases of myocarditis and 138 cases of pericarditis. Five people have died, who were all either elderly or had co-morbidities. 20 million doses of the Moderna vaccine have been given, and 19 cases of myocarditis and 19 cases of pericarditis have been recorded.
Most cases are thought to occur within 14 days of receiving the vaccine. There has been no link found with other vaccines such as the Oxford-AstraZeneca or Janssen.
For advice and support, please contact the Myocarditis charity UK.