January 10, 2022

COVID vaccines and Children’s Hearts

By Dr. Claire Cigarroa, Pediatric Cardiologist, Cigarroa Clinic

With the arrival of the new year and the Omicron variant of Covid-19, there is a sharp increase in pediatric Covid-19 cases in Webb County. The Texas Department of State Health Services reported nearly 7,800 pediatric Covid-19 cases in the first week of January. As a result, pediatric hospitalization and intensive care admissions have increased across the state.

Many parents continue to hesitate when considering Covid-19 vaccination for their children. Parents report many fears when discussing their hesitancy towards vaccination. One concern that has come up time and again is vaccine-related myocarditis.

Below are answers to commonly asked questions on this topic.

Q. What is myocarditis?

A: Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle that typically occurs with certain viral infections. We are seeing similar inflammation following the Covid-19 vaccine. The Covid-19 vaccine does not directly cause myocarditis. Instead, it results from an individual’s abnormal immune response to the vaccine. Symptoms include fever, chest pain, shortness of breath, and palpitations.

Q. Why should I vaccinate my child if there is a risk of damage to the heart?

A: Vaccine-related myocarditis is rare, ~30-60 cases per million vaccinated pediatric persons. The risk of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) related to Covid-19 infection is far greater, ~320 pediatric patients per million infected. MIS-C typically causes more severe heart inflammation than the vaccine. Vaccination also significantly decreases hospitalizations, the need for intensive care, and death.

Furthermore, vaccination decreases viral transmission, making new variants less likely. Widespread vaccination not only reduces the risk of severe disease but is our best hope for getting back to everyday life sooner.

Q. Should children with pre-existing heart conditions receive the Covid-19 vaccine?

A: It is always best to consult with your child’s doctor if you have specific concerns. Children with pre-existing cardiac disease are at increased risk of severe illness with Covid-19 infection. Therefore, we encourage these children to be vaccinated. There is no current evidence suggesting that children with pre-existing heart conditions are at increased risk of vaccine-related myocarditis.

Cases of vaccine-related myocarditis are rare and mild. MIS-C associated with a Covid-19 infection is far more common and severe. Vaccination decreases the rate of Covid-19 infection and side effects. Currently, no suitable alternatives to vaccination are available to prevent severe disease and death. At the current rates of illness and hospitalization in pediatric patients, the benefits associated with immunization far outweigh the risks.


As always, the Cigarroa Clinic is available to answer any question you may have regarding Covid-19 and its effects on the heart. Feel free to call (956) 725-1228. You can also follow the Cigarroa Clinic on FB and Instagram or visit their website at The American Heart Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Pediatrics are also great resources for pediatric heart health.