Two northern health units monitoring reports of rare adverse effects connected to vaccines
SUDBURY -- Health officials with two northern Ontario agencies say they are monitoring incidents of two heart inflammation conditions being reported in a small number of people following COVID-19 vaccinations in the province.
Both Porcupine Health Unit and Public Health Sudbury and Districts sent news releases Monday night about the reporting of myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis, inflammation of the lining around the heart, by Public Health Ontario -- similar to occurrences in the United States and Israel involving COVID-19 mRNA vaccines.
Officials said there is no clear association between the two conditions and the vaccines, and a total of 19 cases have been reported in Ontario between Dec. 13 and June 12.
"Any adverse event occurring after a vaccination may be unrelated to the vaccine itself, however, all events are reported to public health to ensure ongoing review of any potential safety signals," said Sudbury health unit.
The conditions are more commonly reported after the second dose with symptoms usually appearing within several days after vaccination and mainly affect male adolescents and young adults, the health units said. Those who experienced the heart inflammation had mild symptoms which improved quickly to treatment with rest and anti-inflammatory medicine.
Porcupine Health Unit has added the disclosure to the consent process for vaccine clinics and said people up to age 25 should be aware of the possible symptoms of myocarditis and pericarditis:
Those symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain and feeling of a rapid or abnormal heartbeat. Anyone who experiences those symptoms is advised to be assessed by a doctor.
"At this time, we are not aware of any area myocarditis and pericarditis cases linked to mRNA vaccinations," said Gary Schelling, a spokesperson for Porcupine Health Unit, in an email to CTV News.
CTV News did not receive a reply to an inquiry sent to Public Health Sudbury and Districts about whether there have been cases in the Sudbury and Manitoulin districts.
"Although all jurisdictions, including Ontario, continue to recommend COVID-19 vaccine for everyone 12 years of age and older given the risk of COVID-19 illness and related, possibly severe complications, it is important for people to be informed," said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, medical officer of health with Public Health Sudbury & Districts, in Monday's news release.
"The investigations to date have not led Ontario to change any of its vaccine guidance. As part of our vaccination program, however, all immunizers are required to share information on known or potential vaccine side effects to ensure that consent to vaccination is informed. Immunizers constantly update this information as new data is available."
"Currently, there is no official safety alert or advisory in Canada or Ontario, and mRNA COVID-19 vaccines continue to be recommended in all eligible individuals in Canada and in other countries,” said Dr. Lianne Catton, the medical officer of health for Porcupine Health Unit.
Dedication to transparency
“This information is being shared out of a dedication to transparency of emerging data. As part of ongoing COVID-19 vaccine safety efforts, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada, Public Health Ontario and the Ontario Ministry of Health are closely monitoring myocarditis/pericarditis following vaccination."
Public Health Ontario said of the 19 reports, four were diagnosed with myocarditis, 12 were diagnosed with pericarditis and the other three were either perimyocarditis, myopericarditis or inflammatory cardiac reaction of unclear significance.
Five of the cases were female and 14 were males and the ages of those affected were between 15 and 78 years old. Four of the cases were people under 18 years old and none of them required hospitalization.
"At this time, the benefits of the mRNA vaccines continue to outweigh the potential risks of myocarditis/pericarditis. There are clear benefits of mRNA vaccines in reducing complications, hospitalizations and preventing death due to COVID-19 infections," Catton said. "With the Delta variant circulating in the PHU region and across the province, second doses are even more important in achieving optimal protection levels."
There have been a total of 164,870 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine administered in the Sudbury and Manitoulin District and 40,770 residents are fully vaccinated. In the Cochrane District, a total of 71,385 doses of vaccine have been given and 47,281 residents have at least one dose.