HCN News & Notes

Public Health Officials Receive 184 Reports of Vaping-associated Lung Injury, Report 46 to CDC

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has reported 17 additional cases of vaping-associated lung injury — now totaling 46 cases, 16 confirmed and 30 probable — to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). DPH also rolled out a new online dashboard that includes information on vaping cases reported to the CDC that will be updated every Wednesday by noon. 

To date, DPH has received 184 reports from clinicians of suspected vaping-associated lung injury. Of those 184 reports, 46 cases, both confirmed and probable, were reported to the CDC. 

Of the 46 cases reported to the CDC, 27 of the patients were female, and 19 were male. Forty of the patients were hospitalized as a result of their illness. One patient, a woman in her 60s from Hampshire County, was the state’s first death from vaping-associated lung injury, which DPH previously reported.

With regard to age, 21 cases were under age 30. Fourteen were between ages 30 and 49, and 11 were age 50 or above. 

Of the 46 cases reported to the CDC, 19 reported vaping only tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an ingredient found in marijuana. Twelve reported vaping THC and nicotine, while 11 reported vaping nicotine only. Fewer than five reported vaping CBD, and in fewer than five cases the substance was unknown. 

According to the latest CDC guidance, because the specific cause or causes of vaping-associated lung injury are not yet known, the only way to assure that people are not at risk while the investigation continues is to refrain from using all e-cigarette and vaping products. 

On Sept. 24, with the number of suspect cases growing statewide and nationally, Gov. Charlie Baker announced a public-health emergency and a four-month statewide ban on sales of all vaping products in Massachusetts. The sales ban applies to all online and retail vaping devices and products, including those containing nicotine or cannabis. 

As a result of Massachusetts’ public-health emergency, the Commonwealth implemented a statewide standing order for nicotine-replacement products that allows people to access products like gum and patches as a covered benefit through their insurance without requiring an individual prescription, similar to what the Baker administration did to increase access to naloxone, the opioid antidote.