New Zealand reports its first death linked to Pfizer vaccine
The public has been reassured by the health ministry that the benefits of the Pfizer jab still greatly outweigh the risks.
New Zealand has reported what it believes to be its first death linked to the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.
The country's health ministry said an independent Covid-19 vaccine safety monitoring board had concluded that the death of a woman was due to myocarditis, which is a known but rare side effect of the Pfizer vaccine.
Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle, which in this case was concluded to be "probably due to vaccination".
"This is the first case in New Zealand where a death in the days following vaccination has been linked to the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine," the health ministry said.
However, the case has been referred to the coroner and the official cause of death has not yet been determined.
New Zealand's Covid-19 Vaccine Independent Safety Monitoring Board (CV-ISMB) also said there were other medical issues occurring simultaneously which may have "influenced the outcome following vaccination".
The health ministry said despite this rare side effect, the vaccine's benefit outstripped risks from the side effects.
"The benefits of vaccination with the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine continue to greatly outweigh the risk of both Covid-19 infection and vaccine side effects, including myocarditis," it said.
European regulators also say myocarditis is a "very rare" side effect and that the vaccine's benefits outweigh the risks.
Pfizer said it recognised there could be rare reports of myocarditis after vaccinations, but stressed the rarity of such issues.
"Pfizer takes adverse events that are potentially associated with our vaccine very seriously," it said.
"We closely monitor all such events and collect relevant information to share with worldwide regulatory authorities."
In New Zealand, Pfizer is the only vaccine which has been approved by health officials for public rollout in the country. The AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have both been given provisional approval for use also.