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Covid vaccines appear safe for children after MIS-C

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) is a poorly understood health condition affecting about one in 3,000 to 4,000 children and adolescents who were previously infected with SARS-CoV-2. It usually occurs about a week or two after a Covid infection and is characterized by symptoms ranging from stomach pain, fever, and rashes to myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and even organ failure. To date, over 9,000 patients have been diagnosed with MIS-C in the Unites States, and 74 have died.

A lingering question troubling scientists has been whether a Covid vaccine may increase the risk of health problems in young people who have had MIS-C. Fortunately, according to a new study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and involving 22 medical centers and 385 racially diverse patients aged five or older with prior MIS-C, vaccination does not seem to lead to serious complications such as myocarditis or MIS-C reoccurrence. Instead, only mild adverse reactions – such as arm soreness and fatigue – occurred in 49 percent of the participants.

“We are very reassured by the results and this safety data should be comforting to families and healthcare professionals when considering and recommending vaccination,” said study co-leader Matthew D. Elias, M.D., a pediatric cardiologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and clinical assistant professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania.

These findings provide support for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation that patients with a history of MIS-C receive a Covid vaccine at least 90 days after their initial diagnosis. “In light of the acute and long-term consequences of COVID-19 it is vital to continue the development, testing, and deployment of preventive as well as therapeutic agents in at-risk groups as well as the general population,” concluded Gary H. Gibbons, M.D., the director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). 

The study is published in the journal JAMA Network Open.   

By Andrei Ionescu, Staff Writer

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