A young Queensland teacher who has had a severe adverse reaction to the Covid injection says her life has been “essentially ruined”.
A young Queensland teacher who had a severe negative reaction to her first Covid shot says her life has been “essentially ruined” after the state’s vaccine mandate prevented her from working unless she took her second dose.
Bek Bickerton, 27, received her first Pfizer vaccine in October and had immediate side effects, including changes in her menstrual cycle and fatigue, which got progressively worse.
In November, she was hospitalized for a week with dizziness, blurred vision, tingling in her arms, extreme fatigue, low blood pressure and what was later diagnosed as postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS).
“My heart accelerated to extreme levels when I stood up,” she said.
“A brain MRI showed multiple lesions and inflammation. I also had trouble regulating blood pressure and heat. I had a wide range of symptoms, but the worst were severe brain fog and fatigue.”
She was sent home with a diagnosis of POTS and “spent the next two months in bed”, unable to care for her two young children.
“It was during the school holidays so it didn’t affect my work too much, but I chose not to get the second vaccine, which left me unable to work,” she said.
Ms Bickerton was one of more than 1,200 teachers and school staff in Queensland affected by the mandate, which expires this week.
Doctors urge second shot
Under the rule announced last November, “high-risk” workers were required to have their first dose on December 17 and receive a double dose — formerly referred to as “fully vaccinated” – no later than January 23.
Ms Bickerton said that despite her suspected reaction, several GPs and specialists, including two neurologists, refused to write her a waiver.
“None of them would associate my symptoms with the vaccine,” she said.
“The first neurologist said he agreed the timing was suspicious but recommended the second injection. The second I sent some research papers from the US – he refused to read them and said I absolutely had to get the chance.”
Ms Bickerton said she “didn’t expect to be believed or listened to” by doctors. “I knew as soon as I brought it up it would be written off, they would never have the thought that it could be linked to the vaccine,” she said.
“I think I felt like they put me in anti-vax territory.”
She was even hesitant to tell her friends that she thought her symptoms were related to the vaccine because “I knew they would disagree”.
Ms Bickerton eventually found a GP in Gold Coast who specializes in POTS who agreed that the vaccine probably caused her illness.
“He treats many other patients who have had these symptoms,” she said.
The doctor was willing to write her a three-month exemption, which has since expired.
“At that time, there was still no school that would hire me unless it was for outreach,” she said.
“My life is essentially ruined because we now have a single income, I spend days in bed trying to take care of two preschool kids and we can’t afford the mortgage to upgrade our house because we’d planned to.”
She added that the Therapeutic Goods Administration “never contacted me after reporting my side effects and no specialist has linked the vaccine to my symptoms, so I have no access to compensation, or even acknowledgment that I was forced to suffer from this debilitating disease”.
“It’s all been a lose-lose situation,” she said.
It comes after a Australian scientist Also suffering from persistent “long vax” symptoms hit the drug regulator and government for not thoroughly investigating or recognizing neurological responses.
“I did 50 rounds with the TGA before this,” Dr. Rado Faletic at news.com.au.
“They’ve said, ‘We can’t find any security signals,’ which I think is unfair if not outright lying. In my small personal circle I know more than a dozen people with various long vax problems, [ranging from] persistent headaches, memory problems or brain fog for some people who were basically bedridden for months.”
Vaccination mandates end
Last week, the Queensland Government announced that its mandates to vaccinate teachers would: end as state lifts some of its last remaining Covid restrictions
“Queensland has remained strong,” Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters on Friday.
“Restrictions that protected us have been eased in sensible stages. Once again I pay tribute to the resilience of the people of Queensland for the strength of response to this pandemic.”
From Thursday 30 June at 1:00 am the high-risk employee the vaccine mandate will be revoked, meaning that vaccinations will no longer be necessary in schools, early childhood education, out-of-school care, kindergartens, nurseries, prisons, community facilities, labor camps, police stations, juvenile detention centers and airports.
“Decisions regarding mandatory vaccinations [will] be made instead by employers‘ said Health Minister Yvette D’Ath.
In addition, vaccination is no longer required for visitors to residential aged care, disabled accommodation or remedial service facilities.
“The public health guideline mandating the Covid-19 vaccine for healthcare workers, hospitals, aged care and care for the disabled remains unchanged,” said Ms D’Ath.
“We will also scrap the public health direction requiring post-arrival testing for those who have traveled to Queensland from international locations.”
Ms Bickerton says she fears many schools will choose to enforce their vaccine requirements.
“To be honest, I’m still not completely healthy. I don’t know if I could handle a full-time class load,” she said.
1200 employees suspended
A spokeswoman for the Queensland Department of Education said a total of 549 teachers and 660 non-teaching staff had been suspended as of June 24 due to the vaccine mandate.
“From 1am on 30 June 2022, all school and non-school staff will no longer need to be vaccinated to attend schools or early childhood centers in Queensland,” she said.
“This applies to all employees in a school, including contractors, volunteers, service providers, regulators and auditors. Until then, the vaccination requirements will remain in effect. This means they can return to their school workplace where they are normally located.”
The spokeswoman added: “No staff has been fired in connection with this matter. However, the already existing disciplinary procedures will continue. The decision has been made by the Chief Health Officer and the department will continue to follow the advice of Queensland Health.”
Ms Bickerton said she expected the government to stick to its decision to impose mandates even if they expired.
“I think they will absolutely defend it,” she said.
“The majority of people who have received the vaccine two or three times will defend it.”
More than 92 percent of over 16s in Queensland have received two doses of a Covid vaccine, 71 percent of 12 to 15 year olds and 31 percent of five to 11 year olds.
According to the most recent of the TGA security updateas of June 19, a total of 132,155 adverse events were reported from more than 59.9 million doses.
“Vaccination against Covid-19 is the most effective way to reduce deaths and serious illness from infection,” the TGA says.
“The protective benefits of vaccination still far outweigh the potential risks. Like all medicines, Covid-19 vaccines can cause some side effects. The most commonly reported reactions are injection site reactions (such as a sore arm) and more general symptoms, such as headache, muscle aches, fever and chills.”
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