Manitoba public health officials are monitoring for rare cases of heart inflammation following COVID-19 vaccination, offering reassurance the risk of a COVID-19 infection outweighs possible vaccine side-effects.
Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead for the COVID-19 vaccine task force, said, so far in Canada, officials have not observed an increase in the number of myocarditis cases following vaccination.
Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle; both the United States and Israel have reported increased cases among young people following a second dose of mRNA vaccine.
Overall, Reimer said, in Canada, fewer cases of myocarditis are being reported among vaccinated people than would normally occur in the general population.
“The risks of severe illness or even death from COVID-19 infection are much higher and much more serious than the risks associated with myocarditis,” she said Thursday.
New data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on rates of myocarditis following a second dose of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine was released Wednesday.
Reimer said the data showed the number of case was so small U.S. officials are not sure whether the condition is caused by vaccination. If there is a link between the condition and being fully immunized, rates are “incredibly low” and cases are mild, she said.
“Even if there is a link, the surveillance from the U.S. is showing almost every case is mild, is treatable with medications like Advil, and resolves completely, with no lasting symptoms."
Given the incidence rate from the U.S., Reimer said among Manitoban men aged 18-24, public health would expect to see three cases of myocarditis with no lasting symptoms, if each person in that group was fully vaccinated.
Among youth aged 12-17 in Manitoba, they would expect to see five mild cases, with no lasting symptoms, if each one was fully vaccinated.
Reimer said it’s estimated vaccination would prevent more than 1,000 COVID-19 infections, dozens of hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions in those groups.
Myocarditis is not a new condition, and the most common cause are viral infections, including COVID-19, she noted.
People who experience sudden onset of chest pain, shortness of breath, heart flutters or feel they have an unusually fast beating or pounding heart, should seek medical attention, Reimer said.
— Danielle Da Silva