In this Dec. 15, 2021, file photo, a syringe is prepared with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic at the Keystone First Wellness Center in Chester, Pennsylvania. Credit: Matt Rourke / AP

While COVID vaccinations increased cardiac risks in some young men, the virus itself was much more likely to cause heart problems, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found in a study released Friday.

“The risk for cardiac complications was significantly higher after SARS-CoV-2 infection than after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination for both males and females in all age groups,” the CDC said in a study summary.

COVID vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna were linked to higher risk for problems including myocarditis and pericarditis. The Moderna vaccine still has not been approved for anyone under age 18.

According to the CDC, previous research had established links between both COVID and COVID vaccines to myocarditis and similar heart inflammation conditions. But Friday’s study was the first to directly compare them and produce a resounding answer: COVID was worse.

Myocarditis and pericarditis linked to the vaccine were seen most often in boys between the ages of 12 and 17 after the second dose, according to the study. But even for those youngsters, COVID was 1.8 to 5.6-times more likely to cause heart problems.

The study included several million different people and was conducted from January 2021 to January 2022.

At the end of February 2022, the CDC began recommending an eight-week gap between first and second doses for boys over age 12 and young men.