On October 6, health officials in Sweden announced that they would be pausing the use of the Moderna vaccine, which is known as Spikevax, in younger people following reports of side effects such as myocarditis, a type of heart inflammation. The ban applies to anyone who was born in 1991 and later due to “an increased risk of side effects such as inflammation of the heart muscle or heart sac” according to a translation of the Swedish health agency's official statement.
However, they are still recommending that people in this age group get vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine in a suspension that will be valid until December 1. Authorities have also advised people in that age group who have received their first Moderna dose not to get a second one.
Although their statement noted that myocarditis and pericarditis may go away on their own, people with suspicious symptoms should see a doctor or go to the emergency room as medical treatment and hospital monitoring may be necessary.
Meanwhile, Denmark is halting the shot for children under the age of 18. Health authorities there said that data obtained from four Nordic nations indicates a link between heart inflammation and the Moderna shots in younger people.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Danish health official Bolette Soeborg said that young people will only be invited to get the Pfizer jab: “Based on the precautionary principle, we will in future only invite children and young people to receive this vaccine, not least in view of the fact that it is for this vaccine that the largest amount of data from use exists for children and young people, especially from the USA and Israel.”
Norway, meanwhile, had already been recommending the Pfizer shot to minors and reiterated this on Wednesday, reminding citizens that the risk of heart effects is particularly high among boys and young men after the second dose.
Finland is expected to publish its own decision on the matter soon.
In July, EU drug regulator, the European Medicines Agency recommended authorizing the Moderna jab for young people aged 12 to 17 in what was the first time any nation had authorized the shot for children. The approval came several months after their January approval of the Moderna vaccine for people aged 18 and older.
However, European and American regulators have warned that the mRNA vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer have been linked to heart inflammation and chest pain in young people.
Several young people have died from heart problems shortly after receiving the Pfizer jab, although health authorities seem hesitant to admit an official link. A healthy 13-year-old Michigan boy died in his sleep three days after getting his second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, while a 15-year-old California boy with no health issues died of heart issues two days after getting his second dose of the same vaccine.
Although the vaccines from both Moderna and Pfizer rely on mRNA technology, which delivers genetic code to cells, their dosages are different. Pfizer’s offering contains 30 micrograms of vaccine per dose, while Moderna’s is more than three times greater at 100 micrograms per dose, which may explain why its heart effects are more pronounced. The U.S. government’s vaccine development program has asked Moderna to test whether it is possible to lower the dosage without compromising its protection.
These and other potential side effects are something that all parents must weigh when deciding whether their children should get the vaccine. Although some authorities insist these incidents are rare, they are serious enough and common enough to drive several countries to stop using certain vaccines, and they have already robbed young people of their lives. Those who have already gotten the jab are advised to be vigilant for signs of heart problems such as chest pains, shortness of breath, and a pounding or fluttering heart, particularly in young boys in the days and weeks following the second dose.
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