A Calgary woman regrets getting the H1N1 shot after her doctor told her it likely caused a rare and painful disorder.
Norma Goldring said she felt compelled to get an H1N1 vaccine because she is diabetic and has had a heart attack, two factors that Alberta Health noted as putting people at higher risk for serious complications from swine flu.
But soon after getting the shot last winter, Goldring felt ill.
“My body was aching and I was throwing up. Then I developed a spot on my leg,” she said.
The rash spread quickly and Goldring ended up in hospital on Christmas Day. “By the time I got to emergency, it spread pretty bad and turned to blisters.”
Her kidneys were shutting down. Doctors eventually diagnosed it as vasculitis, an inflammation that destroys blood vessels.
Her doctor, who asked not to be named, concluded it was probably connected to the H1N1 shot. Goldring, according to her doctor, is one of only 31 people since 1974 to have had this type of reaction to a flu shot.
Won’t get shot again, says Goldring
Now, even using a walker to get from her living room to her kitchen causes her excruciating pain. She is on pain killers and steroids.
“It was like I was put through a fire. It was like someone lit me on fire,” she said.
Goldring said she won’t get a flu shot again. Desmond Fordyce, her partner, said he is worried the vaccine wasn’t tested properly before widespread public vaccinations began.
“I think they’re killing you more than giving you something for making you better,” he said.
Dr. Glen Armstrong, head of the microbiology and infectious diseases department at the University of Calgary, said the H1N1 vaccine is safe. “It’s very clear that the benefits of having people get vaccinated, far, far outweigh the risks of the very small number of adverse reactions to the vaccine.”
So far, 25 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed across Canada. Nearly 6,000 H1N1 shots resulted in an adverse reaction, of which more than 200 were considered serious. Health officials are investigating 13 post-shot deaths.
Alberta health officials told CBC News they have talked to Goldring’s doctor and will continue to investigate what happened in her case.
The province has seen 1,276 people hospitalized with H1N1 since April 2009 and 71 deaths have been connected to the virus.