Dose 1: Pfizer-BioNTech 20th September 2021 Batch No: FF2382-007
I was a paramedic of 12 years, holding a BHSc in Paramedicine, a Canterbury Citation for my work in the Christchurch earthquakes and a St John Long Service Medal. I loved my job, serving the community, training students, and mentoring new staff.
Just prior to the pandemic I wasn’t working. I was enjoying being with my young children with the intention of returning to work as a paramedic when the youngest was settled at school. I’m a believer in the benefits of immunisations. I, and my children have had all vaccines offered to us until my vaccine injury. I believed the government when they said they had done their due diligence and the covid vaccine was safe. I had the first covid vaccination when it was available to my age cohort. Within a few weeks I started experiencing muscle fasciculations (twitches) in my left upper arm. This is the area where I had the covid vaccine. The fasciculations started as a few twitches but escalated to what looked like a Mexican wave of twitches rippling through my upper arm muscles. I have never seen anything like this before. At first, the fasciculations were limited to just my left upper arm. Weeks went by and it started to spread throughout my body. Some days I hardly notice these twitches, but other days they are relentless. Pulling and contracting my muscles out of my control, any muscles, any time of day or night. The intensity can stop me from sleeping or wake me up. In addition to the unrelenting fasciculations I have now developed a subtle occasional limb jerk. I’ve also experienced a brief loss of the use of my foot whilst walking to a car park.
At the start of these symptoms, I saw a muscular-skeletal specialist whom I had been seeing for a previous unrelated injury. When I told him my symptoms, when they started and that I felt it was connected to the vaccine he put his hands in his pockets, shook his head and said “I cannot help you. As a New Zealand Registered doctor, I have been told to tell you to get the next vaccine. Or your life will be limited”.
He went on to talk about how not having access to the vaccine pass would limit my life. I relayed my fears of a worse reaction if I had another and he said it was most likely I would have a worse reaction but I needed to get the vaccine and just learn to live with the symptoms. I was lost for words. There was no discussion about how the vaccine would keep me out of hospital or off a ventilator, but his pressing point of needing the vaccine was so I could get a vaccine pass. In that moment I lost faith in the humanity of our governing medical councils and our government. My own paramedic registration council took part in this sending out emails stating as health professionals we were not permitted to portray any comments that could lead to vaccine hesitancy. Medicine used to be an area of discussion and learning, discussing pros, cons, benefits, exceptions to the rules etc. That discussion has been shut down when it comes to the covid vaccine and that in itself is a huge alarm bell. Medical practitioners can no longer have healthy discussions for fear of losing their careers reputations, being labeled anti- vaxxers, anti- science, and conspiracy theorists by the media and government. Why can we not discuss the real pros and cons of this vaccine with our patients?? Isn’t that informed consent? Is it because we would quickly look at the numbers and realise that healthy children don’t need it, for example? Withholding information or healthy discussion of ALL the facts when discussing a medication with our patients is NOT informed consent. Gagging health professionals is NOT informed consent.
With the persistence of these symptoms I’ve since seen a neurologist and I now have a diagnosis of Benign Fasciculation Syndrome and unexplained other symptoms. The neurologist asked if there was a preceding event to these symptoms and I was scared to say the covid vaccine for fear of not being able to access care again like with what happened with the muscular-skeletal specialist. Desperate for answers, I did mention the covid vaccine, the neurologist was quiet and moved on to the next question. How can we get treatment when our health professionals are gagged? If the public knew our health professionals were gagged, what would this cause? How would it affect trust in health professionals, accessing health care, vaccine uptake and hesitancy and overall health outcomes?
I’m lucky that I have health insurance that has been able to pay for the specialists and numerous tests I’ve needed. Of the 3 doctors I’ve seen, only one talked to me about ACC. He said ACC will not accept my claim as he had received an email from them saying they will only cover covid vaccine injury if it caused anaphylaxis, myocarditis, or death. I looked into my health insurance, and it turns out I’m lucky the doctors I have seen haven’t directly said my symptoms are a cause of the covid vaccine as my personal health insurance doesn’t cover vaccine injuries. This is another example of how we were not given all the information about this vaccine. If we had been told, ACC will not accept all injuries from this treatment and your health insurance may not either, would people have chosen to have it? We deserved to know what ACC would or wouldn’t be covering as part of informed consent.
Currently I am looking for employment but due to government run agencies still mandating or government-initiated mandates in health care, I cannot find suitable work in my field that does not require full covid vaccinations. I have to accept that while the mandates are in force I will probably not be working. When they are dropped, how do I go back to work in an industry that’s allowed this to happen? Will my moral compass allow this? Or will NZ have lost a career paramedic and health care professional for good.
I fear for my health, not knowing what is around the corner for me. I fear for my children losing their mother. I fear for putting this application in. Will I be called before the paramedic registration Council and lose my registration as a result? Will I be smeared as an anti-science, anti-vaxxer and ever be able to gain employment if prospective employers find out?
I fear for the far reaching consequences of people losing trust in health professionals and the health system as a direct consequence of what has happened. The government failed in its due diligence of the vaccine safety and efficacy. They lied to us and punished us when we asked questions or didn’t conform to be vaccinated even after we knew further doses would make us sick. Then they punished our children. They took exemptions out of the hands of health professionals, for what reason? This won’t be forgotten now that the pandemic is over.
How many people won’t be taking their children for childhood vaccinations now because they cannot trust what is said to them by the government or health professionals. The government told us the vaccine was safe. The government told us getting vaccinated was going to stop the spread of covid. They need to be held accountable for lying to us, failing us, and breaching our human rights.