Israel finds possible link between Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, myocarditis

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Israel’s Health Ministry has announced a possible association between Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine and heart inflammation among men aged 16 to 30. 

Three teams of experts investigated the potential link to cases of myocarditis and submitted findings to the Ministry. Results involved 275 reported cases of myocarditis from December to May, 148 of which occurred around the time of vaccination. Some 27 cases cropped up after the initial dose against a backdrop of 5.4 million vaccinated individuals, while 121 cases occurred around administration of the second dose.

Nearly all cases were mild and mostly occurred in young men aged 16 to 19 post-second dose. Illnesses typically required four days of hospitalization.

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“There is some probability for a possible link between the second vaccine dose and the onset of myocarditis among young men aged 16 to 30,” the announcement reads. “This link was found to be stronger among the younger age group, 16 to 19, compared to other age groups. This link became weaker the older the vaccinated individual is. In most cases, myocarditis took the form of mild illness that passed within a few days.”

A task force was set to deliberate extending vaccinations to teenagers following the report, though according to Reuters, a senior official said a ministry committee approved vaccinations for adolescents.

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“The committee gave the green light for vaccinating 12- to 15-year-olds, and this will be possible as of next week,” Nachman Ash, Israel’s pandemic-response coordinator, told Radio 103 FM, per the outlet. “The efficacy of the vaccine outweighs the risk.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are also “actively monitoring” reports of myocarditis following vaccination in the U.S. but has not determined a link. 

Over 56% of Israel’s population is fully vaccinated, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The country has been hailed for its speedy rollout of vaccines, which offered real-world results on the Pfizer vaccine’s ability to drastically reduce infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

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