A New Jersey family medical practice has changed its Student Athlete Policy in response to increased reports of sudden cardiac death among young athletes on the playing field and will now require patients to submit to lab work and, in some cases, echocardiograms before clearing them to play.
“Sports physicals are done primarily to make sure you are not at high risk for sudden cardiac death on the playing field,” says Morris Sussex Family Practice of Lake Hopatcong, NJ. “COVID vaccinations affect your risk.”
“In response to worldwide experience and vaccine adverse event monitoring, we are adopting a more precautionary sports physical sign off policy,” the practice continued. “If you have received doses of any Covid vaccine, we will not be able to clear you to compete in sports without performing lab work and possibly an echocardiogram to rule out potential heart damage.”
Epidemiologist Andrew Bostom, MD, MS, posted the new policy on Twitter, Friday — an act that could have in the not-so-distant past gotten the doctor suspended or permanently banned from the platform under its “COVID-19 misleading information policy.”
Oh. NJ Fam Practice Student Athlete Policy: “If you have received doses of any Covid vaccine, we will not be able to clear you to compete in sports without performing lab work & possibly an echocardiogram to rule out potential heart damage” https://t.co/IVQahh8raP pic.twitter.com/mnmtAmL8Ti
— Andrew Bostom, MD, MS (@andrewbostom) May 6, 2022
The correlation between heart problems and COVID-19 vaccines has been a contentious one for some time now, even as an alarming number of physically fit athletes began collapsing mid-game.
In late June 2021, the FDA added a warning to Pfizer and Moderna vaccines after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a “likely association” between a second vaccine shot and rare heart inflammation in teens and young adults, BizPac Review reported at the time. The CDC cited more than 1,200 cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) or pericarditis (inflammation of the membrane surrounding the heart) in under-30 recipients of the jab.
But as anecdotal evidence of affected young athletes continued to circulate online, Reuters fact-checkers issued a report in November 2021 declaring, “There is no evidence currently that COVID-19 vaccines are linked to an increase in sportspeople collapsing or dying due to heart issues such as myocarditis.”
Reuters acknowledged several viral clips on social media of athletes dropping over and “presented the posts to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the British regulator for drugs and vaccines, which determined there is currently no supporting evidence to back up such claims.”
Nevertheless, online reports to the contrary continued to grow.
In April, one Twitter user posted a mashup of news reports on collapsing athletes as “food for thought.”
A mashup of collapsing athletes – just food for thought, no opinion. pic.twitter.com/1MQsw5TSoT
— Sean Conway (@seancondev) April 13, 2022
And last week, the government of the United Kingdom posted on its website a similar warning of myocarditis and pericarditis in an updated release entitled, “Information for UK recipients on Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (Regulation 174).”
Citing an “increased risk” of the heart complications, the UK stated, “These conditions can develop within just a few days after vaccination and have primarily occurred within 14 days. They have been observed more often after the second vaccination, and more often in younger males.”
While it does not appear that a consensus on the risk to young adults and, specifically, to athletes has been reached, the updated policy from Morris Sussex is an indication that more healthcare providers are taking note of potentially fatal side-effects from the COVID-19 vaccines.
Online, social media users are quick to point out how quickly the “science” can change.
“Last year: Get vaccinated or you can’t play sports,” tweeted one user. “This year: Get your heart checked if you got vaccinated or you can’t play sports.”
Last year: Get vaccinated or you can't play sports.
This year: Get your heart checked if you got vaccinated or you can't play sports. https://t.co/ho3uIShAK9
— Nicole Solas Domestic Terrorist! (@Nicoletta0602) May 6, 2022
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