To the editor:
It is problematic when information in a Tri-County News health column contains distorted advice, not facts about a COVID-19 vaccine study.
In the Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021 “A Hand in Health” column, the author states the issue clearly himself: “I am not actually sure of the definition of a severe adverse event, but I don’t like the sound of it.” Perhaps the author of “A Hand in Health” column should familiarize himself with the cited study first before publishing verbiage from an opinion article about the study. (https://www.bmj.com/content/374/bmj.n1687/rr-8)
The original COVID-19 vaccine study of adolescents and young adults (https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2107456) provides a definition of the local reactions and systemic events experienced by the participants.
One 14-year-old participant had a fever of 104.4 degrees F that resolved in a day. One 16–25-year-old participant had severe vaccine-related injection-site pain and headache that resolved after one day.
Both side effects qualified as a severe vaccine-related adverse event in the study definition. Other severe vaccine-related adverse events that were reported in the study were: fatigue, chills, muscle, and joint pain that interfered with normal daily activity.
It is important to note: No participant in the study required an ER visit or hospitalization from a local reaction to the vaccine.
Severe illness and death from COVID-19 is uncommon in children but it does occur. As of Aug. 14, 2021 there have been 430 deaths in the age group 0-18 in the U.S. from COVID-19. https://data.cdc.gov/NCHS/Provisional-COVID-19-Deaths-Focus-on-Ages-0-18-Yea/nr4s-juj3/data
However, the long-term physical, emotional and mental health effects of the virus on children are still unknown.
The FDA anticipates COVID-19 vaccines will be available soon for children. As with adults, studies have shown that adolescents can develop mild myocarditis as a rare complication after COVID-19 vaccination.
In the original COVID-19 vaccine study published in Pediatrics, Mayme Marshall, MD et al found: “All patients had an elevated troponin level, an abnormal ECG, and an abnormal cardiac MRI. All seven patients resolved their symptoms rapidly.” The authors offer this recommendation, “Primary care and ED physicians and health care providers should consider myocarditis an etiology of chest pain in patients with recent COVID-19 mRNA vaccination.” https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/early/2021/08/12/peds.2021-052478.full.pdf
According to Audrey Dionne, MD and colleagues at Boston Children’s Hospital, vaccinating males aged 12-29 will prevent 11,000 COVID-19 cases, 560 hospitalizations, 138 intensive care unit admissions, and six deaths, compared with 39 to 47 anticipated myocarditis cases. The benefits of vaccination significantly exceed potential risks (https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/956359)
The public deserves accurate information to make informed decisions about their healthcare and the healthcare of their family members. Misleading phrases and uncited information should not be allowed in the Tri-County News “A Hand in Health” column.
LuAnn Lonergan RN, MSN