Officials probe vaccines’ ties to heart problems

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By Paul Hughes, Republican-American

HARTFORD — Health care providers in Connecticut have identified 18 teenagers and young adults who experienced heart problems after receiving either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.

Dr. Deidre S. Gifford, the acting public health commissioner, reported Monday that no determinations have been made yet whether the unusual heart symptoms are linked to the two mRNA vaccines.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating after a small number of teenagers and young adults nationwide reported having heart problems after being vaccinated for COVID-19. The CDC has yet to determine if the vaccines were the cause of the reported heart condition.

A CDC safety committee released an advisory last week to alert doctors of “myocarditis” among younger vaccine recipients. Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle that minimizes its ability to pump blood normally and can cause increased or abnormal heart rhythms.

Medical experts say the condition is usually caused by viral infections but can also be the body’s reaction to a drug.

“We’ve been in touch with CDC to make sure that they are aware of the cases. So, they are studying this question. These have been rare, they have been mild, and they have been self-limited, but we are tracking them and working with our federal partners,” Gifford said.

She said the 18 possible cases of myocarditis reported to the state Department of Public Health were all individuals who were hospitalized. She said all but one of those patients has returned home, and the vast majority was only hospitalized for a couple of days.

Approximately 36,000 state residents have been hospitalized for COVID-19 in the state’s outbreak. More than 85% of patients have been discharged.

All Connecticut residents over the age of 12 are eligible to receive the vaccines, but only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is currently authorized to be administered to youths ages 12 to 17.

Some 27% of 12- to 15-year-olds have received at least one vaccine dose since this age group became eligible on May 13, and 56% of 16- to 18-year-olds have received a first dose since residents age 16 to 44 became eligible on April 5, according to updated statistics Monday.

The 50% rate among 18- to 24-year-olds was the lowest among all age groups, and the 93% rate among the 65-and-older group was the highest.

Overall, the number of fully vaccinated Connecticut residents is nearing 1.8 million, and more than 2.1 million residents have received a first dose. The state’s population is 3.6 million.

Fully vaccinated means a person has received either a shot of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or a second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Through Monday, 132,836 J&J doses have been administered.

The positive test rate remained barely below 1% over the weekend continuing one of the favorable trends in the state outbreak.

There were 386 new cases of COVID-19 reported between Friday and Sunday out of 42,776 test results that were received for a positivity rate of 0.9%. There now have been 346,711 reported cases since March 2020 and more than 9.1 million molecular and antigen tests have been performed.

Hospitalizations decreased to the lowest level in eight months, Gov. Ned Lamont said. There was a net decline of 13 patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19 between new admissions and discharges to 127 statewide, including 42 patients in New Haven County, 33 patients in Hartford County and 30 patients in Fairfield County.

There were seven more coronavirus-related deaths reported between Friday and Sunday.

“Even that is a number that is continuing to trend in the right direction,” Lamont said.

There now have been 8,219 deaths attributed to COVID-19 or complications from the viral disease. State officials have said all of the most recent deaths have been unvaccinated individuals.

State health officials reported there have been 3,516 COVID-19 cases in Naugatuck, 939 in Prospect and 569 in Beacon Falls since last March.

There have been 93 coronavirus-associated deaths in Naugatuck, six in Beacon Falls and five in Prospect, according to state officials.

Elio Gugliotti contributed to this report.