News in brief: 370 cases of myocarditis with Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine; Medical Board hikes doctors’ registration fees; Cardiologist fears over deferred heart valve surgeries

Wednesday, 15 Sep 2021

370 cases of myocarditis with Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

The TGA has received 370 reports of suspected myocarditis and/or pericarditis following vaccination with Comirnaty (Pfizer) vaccine up to 5 September, according to its latest safety advisory statement.

The regulator says there have been 10.7 million doses of Comirnaty (Pfizer) administered in Australia and the numbers of myocarditis/pericarditis reports received are consistent with what has been observed in the clinical trials and by other medicine regulators overseas.

It notes that 12 of the reports were in children – 10 boys and 2 girls aged 15–17 years old. Five cases occurred after the first dose and 7 after the second dose.

“ATAGI, in collaboration with Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand (CSANZ), have emphasised that the protective benefits of the Comirnaty (Pfizer) vaccine greatly outweigh the risk of these rare side effects,” it said.

“We encourage people to seek medical attention if they experience symptoms that could suggest myocarditis or pericarditis. This includes chest pain, palpitations (irregular heartbeat) fainting or shortness of breath after receiving the vaccine, particularly if they occur within 1–5 days. Initial tests for those presenting with symptoms include ECG, troponin and chest X-ray.”

Medical Board hikes doctors’ registration fees

Registration fees for doctors are to increase by 3% this year, while many other regulated healthcare professions have seen their fees frozen or reduced.

The Medical Board of Australia has set registration fees for 2021–2022 at $835, which is says represents an increase limited to indexation at 3%.

However, national boards for other health professions have frozen annual registration fees, with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia has frozen its registration fees for 2021–2022 at $180.

Registration fees have also been frozen by boards regulating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island health practitioners, Chinese Medicine practitioners, chiropractors, medical radiation practitioners and podiatrists. Some boards such as those regulating psychologists and paramedics have reduced registration fees by up to 10%.

Boards regulating pharmacy and physiotherapy, occupational therapists and optometrists have increased fees by 3%.

AHPRA Chief Executive Officer Martin Fletcher said the regulator recognised the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns may have had on some practitioners’ practice.

“We have put in place a registration and renewal fee payment plan for any practitioners who are experiencing financial hardship,” he said.

Cardiologist fears over deferred heart valve surgeries

Melbourne cardiologist Associate Professor Dion Stub has expressed concern that cardiac patients are missing out on vital heart valve surgery because of the redeployment of hospital resources to manage the surge in COVID-19 patients.

Hospitals have paused elective surgeries for all but the most urgent category one and two patients, and Professor Stub says many of his patients  – includings several with severe aortic valve disease – are having their surgeries delayed for months.

“While a patient with a severe aortic valve disease doesn’t need their aortic valve replacement in the next week, delays of four or five months will be very significant,” he told The Age.

“This is still life-saving surgery. They need aortic valve replacements or they are at significant escalating risk of heart failure presentations or worst case, dying.”

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