Israel reports very few cases of myocarditis after Pfizer boosters

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Sister Barbara Sullivan, 84, receives coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine during vaccination campaign for retired nuns at the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Independent Living Center in Los Angeles, California , USA, March 3, 2021. Photo: REUTERS / Lucy Nicholson

Israel’s health ministry has identified fewer than 10 cases of heart inflammation following a third dose of the Pfizer / BioNtech vaccine among the millions administered, according to recently released data.

Israel began giving boosters to at-risk groups in July and, at the end of August, expanded its campaign to include anyone over the age of 12, five months or more after a second dose.

After launching its rapid vaccination campaign relatively early in December, Israel was one of the first countries to report that vaccine protection was waning over time, and has since deemed its booster campaign safe and effective.

The recall campaign is being closely watched in the United States, where third Pfizer injections have been rolled out for those 65 and over, all people at high risk for serious illness and others who are regularly exposed to the virus.

In data released Thursday evening, the Department of Health reported nine cases of myocarditis in four age groups comprising more than 1.5 million people who received a booster.

All were men, three were between 16 and 29 years old and six were in the 30-59 group. Eight other possible cases were still under review. Most cases of myocarditis are usually mild, the ministry said.

In total, of the 3.2 million Israelis who received a third vaccine, 25 reported serious adverse events that appeared within 30 days of shooting, including myocarditis, although a causal link was not still been established among many of them.

Using a “living with COVID” strategy, the government is hoping that the boosters, so far administered to about a third of the 9.3 million residents, will fend off an outbreak of the Delta variant while the economy remains open.

Since Delta began to spread in June, the government has reimposed the wearing of the indoor mask and Israelis need a Green Pass – a digital document that confirms the full vaccination, including a third injection, or the cure of disease – to enter most places of recreation. Teachers must either be vaccinated or tested to enter schools.

The number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in serious condition has declined in recent days, as has the number of confirmed daily cases, which now stands at around 4,000, down from around 8,000 a month ago.

But experts fear that, with schools reopening this week after the peak Jewish holiday season, the disease will skyrocket. They urged the government to take more action to curb infections, such as limiting large crowds, and not just rely on boosters.

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