Sydney reporter hospitalised after rare Pfizer vaccine side effect

·3-min read
  • Pfizer has a rare heart inflammation side effect

  • Myocarditis and pericarditis explained

  • Benefits far outweigh the risks

A Sydney news reporter who developed a rare heart muscle inflammation after receiving her second Pfizer vaccination said despite the health scare, she has no regrets and encourages everyone to get the jab. 

Daily Telegraph reporter Georgia Clark said she had been experiencing chest pain for about a week and later developed a fever after her second dose of Pfizer.

Ms Clark was diagnosed with pericarditis or heart inflammation, a rare complication linked to the Pfizer vaccination. 

Georgia Clark was hospitalised after complications from her second dose of Pfizer. Source: LinkedIn
Georgia Clark was hospitalised after complications from her second dose of Pfizer. Source: LinkedIn

What are myocarditis and pericarditis?

Myocarditis and pericarditis are both inflammatory conditions of the heart. Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle while pericarditis is inflammation of the lining around the heart. The conditions, due to a variety of causes, are commonly seen in the general population.

According to the Australian Department of Health website, a risk of myocarditis and pericarditis has been observed in people who have received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, like Pfizer, in overseas studies.

Males under 30 receiving a second dose of Pfizer were most likely to be affected, but the incidents remain very rare.

As of 25 July 2021, 84 cases of myocarditis and/or pericarditis have been reported in Australia to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) following the Pfizer vaccine.

The AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is not associated with an increased risk of myocarditis/pericarditis, the department of health says.

Benefits far outweigh the risks

Ms Clark said she has no regrets about getting the vaccination, urging others to do the same.

"I was well aware of the small risk of getting myocarditis or pericarditis from Pfizer, but having seen the devastating impacts of the virus and mounting deaths, I felt the benefits of vaccination to protect both myself and other people outweighed the risk," she told Yahoo News Australia.

"I consulted with my doctor about it and knew the side effects were rare and much better than the risks of Covid-19."

"Side effects can be treated, dying from Covid-19 can’t," Ms Clark wrote in her tweet. "The benefits far outweigh the risks."

"The risk of permanent heart and lung damage from Covid-19 is much higher," she continued. "Hearing harrowing stories from nurses in hospital of once healthy young people left unable to breathe, or with permanent heart damage after the virus is a reminder of just how dangerous this virus is.

"The sacrifices we make now will save lives in the future."

Ms Clark was discharged from hospital on Thursday morning.

The myocarditis-Pfizer risk profile

In the cases of myocarditis reported in the US Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), 76 per cent of cases were in males, and the median age was 19 years old.

The crude reporting rate in males aged 12-29 years was 40.6 cases per million second doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, and in females aged 12-29 years was 4.2 cases per million. 

The rates in males aged 30 years or older developing myocarditis was 2.4 cases per million second doses, and in females of the same age was 1.0 case per million second doses.

The Australia Department of Health website reminds people that the "benefits of the vaccination outweigh the risk of Covid-19". On July 22, 2021, the Therapeutic Goods Association approved the Pfizer vaccination for individuals aged 12 years and older.

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