The nation of Belgium will no longer be recommending the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for citizens under the age of 31, after data shows that using it for the first or second dose of vaccination may cause heart inflammation such as myocarditis. The decision was announced last week by the Belgian Vaccination Task Force.
According to The Brussels Times, Danish studies indicate “that vaccination with Moderna resulted in an increased risk of inflammation of the heart muscle in young men following the first or second dose in comparison with the Pfizer vaccine,” for those between the ages of 12 and 39.
Moderna is still considered safe for booster shots, as only half a dose is given at that time. “The decision for the basic vaccination of 18- to 30-year-olds is based on international knowledge of possible side effects that are very rare. We took this decision as a precaution,” Gudrun Briat, a spokesperson for the Vaccination Task Force, told The Brussels Times.
The government official stressed the side-effects typically went away on their own but said the better option would be avoiding it altogether for the Pfizer jab, which was show was shown to be safer.
“Usually the inflammation is harmless and goes away without being noticed, but if there is an alternative vaccine available, it makes more sense not to take any risks,” Briat explained.
She also added that the symptoms typically show themselves within two months of receiving the Moderna shot, so if you had one a while ago there is likely nothing to worry about.
Belgium is the latest European country to limit the use of Moderna in younger people.
As The Daily Wire reported in October, several Nordic countries also curbed its use based on similar studies showing the potential for heart inflammation:
Sweden’s health ministry announced on Wednesday that it was pausing injections of Moderna’s vaccine for those aged 30 and younger. Denmark announced a similar pause for those aged 18 and younger, according to Bloomberg.
Finland followed suit on Thursday. Finnish health official Mika Salminen said the government was pausing injections of Moderna’s vaccine into males aged 30 and under. All three countries cited evidence that Moderna’s vaccine may be a source of myocarditis, or heart inflammation, in young people.
Likewise, studies from BMJ — a global health researcher — indicate that risk of myocarditis, “for those aged 12-39 years, the absolute rate was 5.7 per 100,000 after receiving the Moderna vaccine,” or in other words was very low.
Regarding policy implications for the United States, Elizabeth Profita, MD, clinical assistant professor of pediatric cardiology at Stanford Children’s Health in Palo Alto, California, and Gerard J. Boyle MD, FACC, medical director of pediatric heart failure and heart transplantation at Cleveland Clinic Children’s in Ohio, recently told TheCardiologyAdvisor.com, that the studies surrounding COVID-19 vaccines generally indicate that they are safe for adolescent and young adults, but that more studies are likely needed:
Dr Profita: There is an ongoing need for tracking and data regarding myocarditis cases occurring after vaccination.
Dr Boyle: The mRNA vaccines have been part of research in the field of immunization for many years now and are not as new as most believe. Research specific to COVID-19 should be directed at defining the interval at which boosters need to be given, and to treatment of breakthrough infections to minimize the impact of infection. Additionally, this technology has the promise of potentially developing a “super-vaccine,” which may be directed at multiple potential viruses.
Given the risks associated with COVID-19 infection vs the rarity of, and recoverability from, post-vaccine myocarditis, it is strongly recommended that all eligible children and young adults be fully vaccinated.