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Local doctors address concerns about COVID vaccine side effects

Published: Sep. 28, 2021 at 7:55 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - You might have been seeing some concerns online over the COVID vaccine causing inflammation of the heart.

We went out to find out what doctors say you need to look out for and what’s nothing to cause alarm.

It’s called myocarditis, which is just a big way to say inflammation of the heart. But we wanted to know who’s being impacted by this, and how common it is.

In an interview with us a few days ago, Dr. Rodger MacArthur with Augusta University Health shared some questions he has about booster shots.

“The one that’s concerning, after just the second dose of Pfizer and Moderna, in young men especially, is inflammation of the heart. Either the heart muscle or the lining around the heart. And there’s just no data about whether we’ll see more of that if we give young folks a third dose,” he said.

Information on this is all in the early stages. But here’s what we do know: The American Medical Association says this side effect is extremely rare and in those rare instances, people have recovered just fine.

Cardiovascular specialists hope people will continue to get vaccinated.

“As I said, we don’t have the comparison data, but here for example, we haven’t seen anybody with pericarditis or myocarditis after the vaccine. We have seen people with those diseases without the vaccine, because of COVID,” said Dr. Richard Lee, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at AU Health.

The health risks from COVID he says are much more significant.

“So what usually causes myocarditis or pericarditis is an infection or a viral infection, and actually COVID-19 does cause myocarditis and pericarditis,” he said.

And Lee has some strong words.

“If I had one take-home message for today, would be: Get the vaccine. Get the vaccine. Get the vaccine,” he said.

And some of the symptoms of heart inflammation are trouble breathing or chest pain. But Lee says in the rare times this condition occurs in general, sometimes people don’t even have symptoms. And he says anytime you’re experiencing any kind of chest pain or difficulty breathing it could be a sign of something more significant and it’s best to go see a doctor immediately.

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