HALIFAX — Nova Scotia's top public health doctor says there have been 22 cases of heart inflammation reported in the province after immunization with Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
The cases of myocarditis and pericarditis — or swelling of the heart muscle and lining — have mostly arisen in males between 20 and 30 years old who recently received their second doses of vaccine, Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, told reporters on Friday.
It's not clear what causes these conditions or if they are directly related to the vaccines, he said, adding that the events are rare and have been recorded across the globe.
"While the symptoms can be scary, people respond relatively quickly to conservative treatment and rest," Strang said. "But … the risk of remaining unimmunized far, far outweighs the risk from this uncommon and time-limited adverse effect."
Everyone in Nova Scotia aged 12 and over should get a COVID-19 vaccine, he said.
Meanwhile, the province reported two new cases of COVID-19 Friday, for a total of 12 active reported cases. One of those infections involved a crew member of the HMCS Halifax, a Royal Canadian Navy frigate that docked in the province's capital Monday after returning from a six-month deployment on the Mediterranean Sea. Strang said there are three cases confirmed among the ship's crew.
As of Friday, 75 per cent of all people in Nova Scotia had received at least one dose of vaccine and 56 per cent had received two doses, according to online government data.
On Thursday, health officials reported that a woman in her 50s in the central zone died from COVID-19, marking the province's 93rd death linked to the novel coronavirus. Strang said Friday the woman was not immunized.
The province's mass vaccination clinics will begin to wind down Aug. 15, but pharmacies will continue to administer shots throughout the summer and into the fall, Strang said. The Health Department, he added, is working with pharmacies to ensure there is plenty of access to vaccines once the clinics close.
Strang acknowledged that vaccination rates are lowest among younger people, but said that was expected and rates are still higher for younger age groups in Nova Scotia than they are among youth in other parts of the country. He said he didn't think that closing mass vaccination clinics would deter younger people from getting a shot.
"And we are getting … 1,000 or more people a day for first doses, most of whom are in those younger age groups," he said. "So we will get there, it's going to take a little bit more time."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 23, 2021.
— By Sarah Smellie in St. John's.
The Canadian Press