Strokes, blood clots, wheelchairs: B.C. patients describe rare reactions to COVID vaccines
As British Columbians were starting to get COVID-19 vaccinations in December 2020 and the first half of 2021, health officials were behind-the-scenes carefully tracking serious side-effects from the shots, according to documents recently released under the Freedom of Information Act.
Although the 42-page released contains few examples of severe reactions, those that were flagged sparked immediate responses from health leaders who were monitoring the millions of Canadians getting the new vaccinations.
A June 7, 2021 email to Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, revealed that a person in the Interior Health region suffered a “severe stroke” after getting the Pfizer vaccine, which was deemed to be “an adverse reaction” to the shot.
“Doctors in B.C. … agree that the vaccine was the catalyst for his stroke. We cannot change this for (name redacted) but investigating this might prevent someone else from suffering the same outcome,” said the email. The sender’s name was removed.
Henry asked officials to follow up, but Interior Health’s detailed response was also erased from the FOI documents, so it is difficult to tell whether this was an isolated case. The Journal of the American Medical Association, though, published research in November, 2021, showing no increased prevalence of stroke following vaccine shots.
After COVID vaccines first arrived in B.C. in mid-December 2020, the initial doses were given to front-line health care workers and employees of long-term care homes. The next to receive shots in the first months of 2021 were senior citizens and older Indigenous people, followed by first responders, teachers, child care staff, and other workers deemed to be essential.