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Getting the Right Perspective on Covid-19 Vaccines

We have learned a lot in the nearly two years since drug companies Pfizer and Moderna released the first mRNA Covid-19 vaccines.  Unfortunately, some people have learned the wrong lessons.
There are claims that people should not take the mRNA vaccines because they can cause myocarditis and pericarditis.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle” which can  “reduce the heart’s ability to pump blood.” And pericarditis is “swelling and irritation of the thin, saclike tissue surrounding the heart.”
There were concerns raised early on that there seemed to be an uptick in myocarditis cases for younger men who had received Moderna’s mRNA vaccine. But scientists weren’t sure if the increase was statistically significant.
Well, the American College of Cardiology has just released a study trying to ascertain whether Pfizer’s and Moderna’s mRNA vaccines imposed an increased myocarditis risk. The study was conducted in Canada, where 52 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine and 22 million doses of Moderna’s had been administered.
The study concluded, “Clinical trials have demonstrated the vaccines are safe and monitoring of vaccinated people has shown side effects are mild and go away on their own. However, some rare, but serious, side effects have been observed after both vaccines, mainly myocarditis (inflammation of the heart).”
How rare?
“Researchers also looked at [myocarditis] rates per million doses and the rate was 35.6 cases per million for Moderna and 12.6 per million for Pfizer—an almost threefold increase after Moderna shots vs. Pfizer. Comparatively, rates of myocarditis in the general population in 2018, were 2.01 per million in people under age 40 and 2.2 per million in people over age 40.”
So yes, there is an increase, especially for males under the age of 40, but it’s miniscule—35.6 cases per million overall, and even fewer for Pfizer’s vaccine.
For comparison’s sake, there were some 117 U.S. car-crash deaths per million population in 2020, according to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Yet very few people refuse to travel in a car because of the possibility of a crash leading to death.
But even that comparison is skewed because we aren’t comparing death for death. While there is no cure for myocarditis, it is often treatable. And for those who have concerns, there are other Covid-19 vaccines that use traditional vaccine processes.
Perspective is important. Vaccines, like nearly all medicines and medical treatments such as surgery, may have side effects. That means patients, in consultation with their physician or other health care provider, should weigh those risks and benefits and make an informed decision.