What parents should know about the risk of myocarditis and pericarditis in teens after the COVID-19 vaccine

You may have heard about rare COVID-19 vaccine side effects called myocarditis and pericarditis, or heart inflammation. As a parent, it's understandable to have some questions and concerns about this news. You may even wonder if you should delay your child's COVID-19 vaccine.

But experts who are closely monitoring the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine recommend that people 12 years and older can and should continue to get vaccinated.

"The most important thing to know is that all the myocarditis and pericarditis cases related to the COVID-19 vaccine have been very mild. The kids with this side effect make a full and quick recovery," says Ryan Butts, M.D., a pediatric cardiologist at Children's Health℠ and Associate Professor at UT Southwestern. "The risks associated with the COVID-19 virus are far greater than any risk of heart inflammation from the vaccine."

Dr. Butts answers questions about heart inflammation and the COVID-19 vaccine and what parents should know about vaccinating children and teens.

What are myocarditis and pericarditis?

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle. Pericarditis is inflammation of the sac or lining around the heart (pericardium). These conditions often occur together, which may be referred to as myopericarditis.

This inflammation is usually a reaction to the body's immune system fighting off an infection, including viral infections like the flu, parvovirus and COVID-19. Doctors and scientists are learning more about why the COVID-19 vaccine may cause this response in rare cases.

Click here to read more about what parents should know.