Myopericarditis after vaccination, Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), 1990-2018

Vaccine. 2021 Jan 29;39(5):839-845. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2020.12.046. Epub 2021 Jan 6.


Background: Myopericarditis after vaccination has been sporadically reported in the medical literature. Here, we present a thorough descriptive analysis of reports to a national passive vaccine safety surveillance system (VAERS) of myopericarditis after vaccines licensed for use in the United States.

Methods: We identified U.S. reports of myopericarditis received by VAERS during 1990-2018 that met a published case definition for myopericarditis or were physician-diagnosed. We stratified analysis by age group (<19, 19-49, ≥50 years), describing reports by serious/non-serious status, sex, time to symptom onset after vaccination, vaccine(s) administered, and exposure to other known causes of myopericarditis. We used Empirical Bayesian data mining to detect disproportionate reporting of myopericarditis after vaccination.

Results: VAERS received 620,195 reports during 1990-2018: 708 (0.1%) met the case definition or were physician-diagnosed as myopericarditis. Most (79%) myopericarditis reports described males; 69% were serious; 72% had symptom onset ≤ 2 weeks postvaccination. Overall, smallpox (59%) and anthrax (23%) vaccines were most commonly reported. By age, among persons aged < 19 years, Haemophilus influenzae type b (22, 22%) and hepatitis B (18, 18%); among persons aged 19-49 years smallpox (387, 79%); among persons aged ≥ 50 years inactivated influenza (31, 36%) and live attenuated zoster (19, 22%) vaccines were most commonly reported. The vaccines most commonly reported remained unchanged when excluding 138 reports describing other known causes of myopericarditis. Data mining revealed disproportionate reporting of myopericarditis only after smallpox vaccine.

Conclusions: Despite the introduction of new vaccines over the years, myopericarditis remains rarely reported after vaccines licensed for use in the United States. In this analysis, myopericarditis was most commonly reported after smallpox vaccine, and less commonly after other vaccines.

Keywords: Adverse event; Myopericarditis; Surveillance; VAERS; Vaccine.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Adverse Drug Reaction Reporting Systems
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Humans
  • Influenza Vaccines*
  • Influenza, Human*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vaccination / adverse effects
  • Young Adult


  • Influenza Vaccines