BRUSSELS, Belgium (LifeSiteNews) – Belgium has joined a growing list of European countries pausing the Moderna COVID-19 shot for young people amid rising concerns about heart inflammation after vaccination.
Belgium stopped using the jab in December for the first two doses for people under 31 years old, The Brussels Times reported last week.
“We took this decision as a precaution,” Gudrun Briat, spokesperson for the Vaccination Task Force, told the paper, citing international data on side effects.
Moderna boosters, which contain half of a normal dose, will still be provided to younger age groups. “Moderna will be used for the rest of the booster vaccination campaign unless the scientific insights into its use change,” said Joris Moonens, spokesperson for the Belgian Agency for Care and Health.
The Brussels Times pointed to a Danish study last month that found a “significantly increased risk” of myocarditis or pericarditis – two forms of heart inflammation – after Moderna, particularly for people between 12-39 years old who received a second shot. Those vaccinated with the Moderna jab had a nearly four times higher rate of developing the condition than the unvaccinated.
Other recent research has linked the Pfizer vaccine to considerably higher risks of heart inflammation in young people as well. A large study published by British researchers late last year reported that the rate of myocarditis in men under 40 was almost twice as high after a second Pfizer dose than after COVID-19 and four times higher than baseline.
The risks doubled after a booster, according to the pre-print study, which also reported heightened myocarditis risks following Moderna vaccination.
The study indicated that heart inflammation, which can be serious and even life-threatening, may be more deadly after Pfizer or Moderna vaccines than usual. According to the researchers, 14 percent of British patients hospitalized with myocarditis soon after a Pfizer shot died, compared with 9 percent of those without recent COVID mRNA vaccination.
Vaccine-related heart inflammation appears to hit children and adolescents hardest. A November study out of Hong Kong estimated that 1 in 2,680 boys age 12-17 will develop myocarditis or pericarditis within two weeks of a second Pfizer jab.
Belgian health authorities nevertheless continue to recommend the Pfizer vaccine for people under age 31, The Brussels Times reported.
Belgium’s pause of Moderna for younger age groups follows similar action in several Nordic countries. Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland all recommended against the vaccine for young people in October due to heart inflammation risks. France and Germany did the same the following month.
Norway halted second COVID shots for adolescents entirely last fall, with the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) saying that there was “no basis” for offering an additional dose.
Children and teens face extremely small risk of death or serious illness from coronavirus. “The risk of severe COVID-19 disease course is very low, both among children and adolescents in general, but also among children and adolescents with serious and chronic diseases or conditions,” the NIPH has noted.
Out of nearly 10 million child COVID cases recorded in the United States, between zero and 0.02 percent have resulted in death, according to the American Pediatric Association. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported less than 900 COVID-related deaths in children since the beginning of 2020.