Reported By Grant Atkinson September 15, 2021
On Aug. 31, 2021, John Stokes was preparing for his senior season playing Division 1 NCAA golf at Tennessee State University. By Sept. 6, the 21-year-old was hospitalized with heart complications. What changed during the span of those four days? According to Stokes, he received the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I am a Division 1 student-athlete with no prior health issues, and I got the second COVID shot Tuesday [on Aug. 31],” he said in a now-viral TikTok video. “And within four days, I have been diagnosed with myocarditis and was told that I probably won’t be able to play my senior season now.”
According to his profile on Tennessee State’s website, Stokes was set to begin his second and final season with the program. His newly developed heart condition is putting his ability to play in jeopardy.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines myocarditis as “inflammation of the heart muscle,” and the agency says it can be caused by an immune system response to some trigger, such as an infection. The CDC has admitted myocarditis, along with an “inflammation of the outer lining of the heart” known as pericarditis, has been reported after mRNA COVID vaccines.
The agency even went as far as to say that these side effects are most common in adolescent or young adult males after receiving the second vaccine dose from either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna. Yet the CDC continues to push the vaccine even on this specific group.
“CDC continues to recommend that everyone aged 12 years and older get vaccinated for COVID-19,” the agency says on its website.
“The known risks of COVID-19 illness and its related, possibly severe complications, such as long-term health problems, hospitalization, and even death, far outweigh the potential risks of having a rare adverse reaction to vaccination, including the possible risk of myocarditis or pericarditis.”
A simple study of the numbers will prove that this theory is questionable, at best. According to Statista, there had been 3,043 COVID-19 deaths among Americans aged 18-29 as of Sept. 8, 2021. In another chart, Statista reported 7,148,719 COVID-19 cases among Americans aged 18-29. That means that if you get COVID-19 between the ages of 18-29, you have approximately a .04 percent chance of dying from the virus.
In addition, that only takes into account known positive cases of COVID-19. It does not include unreported cases, nor does it include Americans aged 18-29 who never even get COVID-19. Suffice to say, the chances of 18 to 29-year-old Americans dying from COVID-19 are very slim.
While cases of myocarditis and pericarditis as a result of the vaccine are admittedly rare, they are at least a possibility. Many 18 to 29-year-olds are not willing to take that risk to protect themselves from a virus that has an extremely low chance of killing them. Even if you feel that 18 to 29-year-olds should be vaccinated, you should at least be able to see the problem with mandating a vaccine that has some potential to cause heart inflammation. The CDC’s argument that the risks of COVID-19 outweigh the risks of the vaccine is a choice that Americans should make for themselves, not one that the government gets to decide for them.
“It isn’t right for people to be forced to take the vaccine because there are actual side effects like this that could happen to you,” Stokes said. “Everyone should be informed of the side effects, and no one should be forced to take something that could cause what has happened to me.”
While the CDC says the possible long-term effects from COVID-19 are a reason to get the vaccine, Stokes said the possible long-term effects from the vaccine itself are unknown.
“No one knows the long-term effects of what’s possibly going to happen from this,” he said. “It’s kind of uncharted territory because everyone else with the same heart issues from the vaccine as me, we’re all being tracked and monitored.’
“We’re basically like test subjects from the vaccine, so it’s a very serious issue that really needs to be spread.”
Just as living unvaccinated could present a higher risk of getting COVID-19, receiving the vaccine presents its own risks. The choice of which risk to take has always been and must remain a personal one.
Grant Atkinson, Editorial Intern
Grant is a graduate of Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He has five years of writing experience with various outlets and enjoys covering politics and sports.