Finland has joined Sweden, Denmark and Norway in either banning or discouraging young adults or teens from getting the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, because of the increased risk of myocarditis — heart inflammation.
Dr. Hanna Nohynek, chief physician at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, had told the media a decision was coming down Thursday.
Finland's health authorities announced that men under 30 will not get the Moderna shot, and should get the Pfizer vaccine instead. Sweden banned Moderna for people under the age of 30, and Denmark did the same for people under 18. Instead of issuing a ban, Norway is urging people under 30 to choose Pfizer rather than Moderna.
And on Friday, Iceland halted distribution of Moderna in general.
"The Chief Epidemiologist has decided that the Moderna vaccine against Covid-19 will not be used in Iceland while further information is obtained on the safety of the vaccine during booster vaccinations," says a statement from Iceland health officials.
The decision by all five countries was sparked by a study by Sweden’s Public Health Agency, saying administering the Moderna shot to young people could bring about “an increased risk of side effects such as inflammation of the heart muscle or the pericardium — the double-walled sac containing the heart and the roots of the main vessels." The study added the proviso "the risk of being affected is very small.”
The Swedish report is being studied by the European Medicines Agency’s adverse reaction committee, media reports say.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has stated that "as part of the careful monitoring of these vaccines, reports of rare cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the tissue surrounding the heart) after immunization with mRNA COVID-19 vaccines continue to be reported in Canada and around the world.
"Vaccine safety surveillance data in Canada also suggest relatively higher rates of myocarditis and/or pericarditis reported after Spikevax (Moderna) vaccination compared to Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNTech). While follow-up is ongoing, the available data indicate that the majority of affected individuals, even if hospitalized, experience relatively mild illness, respond well to conservative treatment, and recover quickly. It is also important to consider that the risk of cardiac complications, including myocarditis, has been shown to be substantially increased following SARS-CoV-2 infection, and that it is higher following infection than after vaccination.
The statement adds that "individuals in Canada should be assured that all COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in Canada have been rigorously tested and carefully reviewed by Health Canada."
In the United States, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that "CDC and its partners are actively monitoring reports of myocarditis and pericarditis after COVID-19 vaccination. Active monitoring includes reviewing data and medical records and evaluating the relationship to COVID-19 vaccination."
On Saturday Oct. 16, says a report from The Wall Street Journal, the FDA is delaying its approval of Moderna for teenagers, so that it could further study whether it increases the risk of myocarditis.