Rantz: Healthy teen sent to ER after Pfizer vaccine, CDC investigates heart issues

May 25, 2021, 8:08 PM | Updated: May 26, 2021, 4:29 pm
evan morud, vaccine...
18-year-old Evan Morud developed heart problems after the second Pfizer COVID shot. It's unclear if there's a direct connection but the CDC is investigating claims. (Photo: Evan Morud)
(Photo: Evan Morud)

A healthy 18-year-old landed in the emergency room after receiving the Pfizer vaccine.

Evan Morud of Kenmore was diagnosed with myopericarditis, an inflammation of the heart and surrounding tissue, by doctors at the UW Medicine Northwest Campus. He quickly developed the condition just days after receiving the second dose of the vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently investigating whether there is a connection between the condition and the vaccine.

The Inglemoor High School senior is speaking up to warn teenagers and their parents of the rare but serious potential side effects they may dismiss as routine. Ignoring myocarditis, however, can be deadly.

After the second vaccine, one teen heads to ER

Morud was eager to get his vaccination.

But two days after the second dose, what started as normal side effects became alarming. At first, it was body aches and a headache. But then his neck became so stiff and painful that he could barely move it. Some ibuprofen took care of the problem, and he thought he would be fine.

Then it became much more serious.

“I started to experience some upper chest pain, shortness of breath, and just really just getting winded doing everyday activities, and my neck was also swollen up, my lymph nodes were, and it felt like my airway was getting constricted in my throat, and that was kind of the telltale sign that something wasn’t right,” Morud tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

When the symptoms didn’t improve, he went to the hospital. It turned out to be a potentially life-saving decision.

It was his heart

When he arrived at the ER, Morud says he underwent an examination and tests after doctors became alarmed by the chest pain. They drew blood and tested troponin levels — proteins that help regulate the contractions of the heart and skeletal muscles. Morud says they were through the roof.

“They knew something was going on with my heart,” Morud said.

Morud recalls the doctor originally diagnosed him with pericarditis, an inflammation of the tissue around the heart. But he says the second round of blood tests showed the heart muscle itself was also inflamed.

“My first thought was that I was really concerned about any possible long-term damage to my heart,” he said. “I didn’t really know much about the condition, but then I realized the place that I recognized it from was actually last year when the NCAA was not playing sports. They cited myocarditis as a reason for why they didn’t want their athletes to compete. So once I kind of put two and two together and realized myocarditis was linked to that, that’s when I became kind of scared about, you know, am I going to be OK going forward? Am I going to have any long-term effects?”

Why he’s coming forward

If untreated, myocarditis can be deadly. Thankfully, Morud was wise enough to go to the emergency room for treatment. He will be OK. It’s why he’s sharing his story.

“The reason that I’m coming forward and sharing my story is because I really want people to know these symptoms that they need to look for, specifically chest pain and an inability to move the neck, or like severe neck pain,” he said. “And the reason that I really want to share this is because a lot of these symptoms overlap with normal reactions to the vaccine, such as body aches and a fever.”

Morud isn’t anti-vaccine. But he knows that “if I waited any longer than I did, I could have been way worse off than I am.”

CDC looking into the connection

The CDC is investigating several reports of teens and young adults developing myocarditis after their second vaccination. They are in the early stages of their investigation and have asked doctors to be alert to the possible rare side effect.

“It may simply be a coincidence that some people are developing myocarditis after vaccination,” Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist at Bellevue Hospital Center in New York, told the New York Times. “It’s more likely for something like that to happen by chance, because so many people are getting vaccinated right now.”

But according to preliminary data, the condition could develop within four days of the second Pfizer or Moderna shot. That corresponds to Morud’s experience. It also seems to impact more males than females.

The CDC’s Vaccine Safety Technical Work Group says “most cases appear to be mild, and follow-up of cases is ongoing.”

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No regrets…

Morud has no regrets about getting the vaccine.

“Even if I knew the side effect, … if there’s data to support that this is a direct side effect of the vaccine, given the very minimal likelihood of this occurring, I would still happily take the vaccine again,” Morud told me. ‘”I just want people to be aware of that this could possibly be a side effect.”

Unfortunately, too many activist voices and even public health officials are reluctant to openly discuss side effects — serious or otherwise.

That decision has serious implications as most public colleges in Washington state now require students get vaccinated to return to campus. But what if vaccines are, in fact, causing this heart condition?

… but you better shut up about side effects

Morud isn’t supposed to tell his story, according to some.

When voices offer good-faith questions about vaccines, they’re immediately labeled anti-vaxxers. Simply promoting this interview on KTTH, random users accused me of contributing to vaccine hesitancy and wondered if I was a hypocrite. One accused me of spreading Russian disinformation.

Did I get the vaccine, they asked? Yup — I did. I talk about it on my show daily and recommend people get a vaccination in consultation with their doctor. That’s what I did.

But staying silent on side effects or denying they exist is the wrong move. It endangers people’s lives when they don’t know what to look for, or alarms them when they experience something they could have planned to experience.

“A big thing for me, one of my core values, is transparency and honest communication,” Morud said. “Whether a side effect, the chance of it occurring, is one in 10 or one in 10 million, I still feel that people should be fully aware of every risk possibly posed, just so they have this ability to act as soon as possible and not possibly end up in the hospital or have a very serious long-term problem.”

Did you like this opinion piece? Then listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz  on  Twitter,  Instagram, and Parler, and like me on Facebook

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Rantz: Healthy teen sent to ER after Pfizer vaccine, CDC investigates heart issues