The study mentioned that all participants received either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, both requiring two doses. It added that 19 study participants were active military members who had received their second vaccine dose. The other volunteers had either received only one dose or were retired from the military.
Furthermore, all the participants – aged between 20 and 51 years old – had recovered or were recovering from myocarditis or heart muscle inflammation. Eight participants in the study underwent diagnostic scans. They later showed signs of heart inflammation that could not be explained by other causes.
The study continued that based on estimates on the general population, the number of myocarditis cases from the 436,000 male military members who completed the two-dose schedule would be eight or less.
The estimates mentioned in the study lined up with guidance from an outside panel of experts advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the panel, the reports of myocarditis were higher in males and in the week following the second vaccine dose compared to the general population. Furthermore, the panel mentioned that there were about 12.6 myocarditis cases per 1 million people vaccinated.
In line with the panel's findings, U.S. regulators added a warning about myocarditis to the information sheets of both mRNA vaccines. Despite the risks of heart inflammation seen primarily in young males, health authorities have insisted that myocarditis following vaccination was a rare occurrence and the vaccine's protection outweighed risks of adverse reactions.
Back in April of this year, the CDC began its probe of the potential link between mRNA vaccines and myocarditis. It followed Israel's earlier decision to investigate more than 60 reported cases of heart lining and heart muscle inflammation. The Middle Eastern country used the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on its citizens. (Related: WORST "SIDE EFFECT" EVER: Heart inflammation happening all over the world due to blood clotting caused by covid-19 vaccines.)
A BloombergQuint report in late April 2021 said Israeli health authorities investigated if the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine had anything to do with the cardiac inflammations. The Israeli Ministry of Health said in a study that the government identified 62 cases of myocarditis and pericarditis – the latter being the inflammation of the heart lining. Two of the patients died while the rest recovered.
Meanwhile, Pfizer said in a statement that it is aware of the cardiac inflammation reports in Israel. However, it insisted that "there is no evidence" of myocarditis being a risk associated with its mRNA vaccine and that a causal link between the two "has not yet been established." The Pfizer statement said: "We have not observed a higher rate of myocarditis than what would be expected in the general population."
The JAMA Cardiology study only served to reinforce vaccine hesitancy among the armed forces. Back in February 2021, a number of top military officials said that about one-third of service members have declined COVID-19 vaccinations. "Our initial look … [on] very early data is [that] acceptance rates are somewhere in the two-thirds territory. And of course, it varies by different groups," Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Director for Operations Maj. Gen. Jeff Taliaferro said. (Related: Pentagon reports a third of US troops declining Wuhan coronavirus vaccine.)
National Guard Bureau Operations Head Maj. Gen. Steven Nordhaus said the vaccine acceptance rate among guardsmen was around "two-thirds to 70 percent." This mirrored the estimate given by Taliaferro. COVID-19 vaccination in the armed forces is not mandatory, but some military facilities have implemented rules giving inoculated service members more leeway than those who are not.
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