Health authorities in New Zealand have attributed the Pfizer vaccine to a 26-year-old man’s death.
The agency announced earlier this week that, after receiving the first dose of the vaccine, the man suffered from inflammation of the heart muscle known as myocarditis.
He died within the two weeks following his first shot and did not seek medical treatment or advice following the onset of symptoms.
Symptoms of myocarditis include chest pain, shortness of breath, and feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering or pounding heart.
In a statement, New Zealand’s Covid-19 Vaccine Independent Safety Monitoring Board said, “With the current available information, the board has considered that the myocarditis was probably due to vaccination in this individual.”
The board encouraged citizens to continue to get the shots as “the benefits of vaccination with the Pfizer vaccine for Covid-19 continue to greatly outweigh the risk of such rare side effects.”
The unidentified man is the second fatality in the nation attributed to the COVID-19 vaccine. In August, health authorities reported a woman died after being fully vaccinated.
“New Zealand’s vaccine safety board also said another two people, including a 13-year-old, had died with possible myocarditis after taking their vaccinations. More details were needed before linking the child’s death to the vaccine, while the death of a man in his 60s was unlikely related to the vaccine,” per CNBC.
A spokesperson for Pfizer said the company was aware of the death but held that the benefit-risk profile for its vaccine was positive.
Myocarditis is described as a rare side effect of the vaccine. Other countries, including Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and France, halted the use of the Moderna vaccine for people under 30 after it was linked to an increased rate of myocarditis and pericarditis, inflammation of the lining around the heart.
The nations noted that men in this age group were particularly susceptible to the adverse effect — especially after the second dose.
Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have each acknowledged the increased risk of cardiovascular side effects, but have not acted to limit the vaccination distribution.
While it reports “actively monitoring reports of myocarditis,” the CDC “continues to recommend that everyone ages 5 years and older get vaccinated for COVID-19.”
The WHO acknowledged that “a very rare signal of myocarditis/pericarditis has been reported with mRNA COVID-19 vaccines,” but stressed that vaccinations were necessary to maintain normal life.
“Vaccinating children and adolescents may also help advance other highly valued societal goals,” the organization said. “Maintaining education for all school-aged children should be an important priority during this pandemic. School attendance is critical to the well-being and life prospects of children and to parental participation in the economy. Vaccinating school-aged children may help minimize school disruptions by reducing the number of infections at school and the number of children required to miss school because of quarantine requirements.”
The Ministry of Health reports that 90% of the nation’s eligible population is fully vaccinated.