Yet Another Canadian Paralysis
Caused By H1N1 Swine Flu Vaccine
A Canadian woman cant stand without leaning on a walker and
her legs are too numb to allow her to walk for more than a few steps.
The right side of her face is paralyzed, she cant properly
chew solid food and her right eye is bandaged because she can no
longer blink to protect it. The cause? The H1N1 swine flu vaccine.
Until five weeks ago, the Ontario woman from Whitby was perfectly
healthy spending Christmas with her family in Nova Scotia. And
then on Dec. 29 she was rushed to an emergency room in Halifax,
suddenly unable to stand on feet.
The doctors diagnosed her with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare
neurological condition characterized by sudden weakness or paralysis.
And while no one seems willing to discuss the likely cause, the
39-year-old knows exactly where the fault lies.
She blames the H1N1 flu shot she received on Dec. 13 - two weeks
before her symptoms suddenly appeared.
Hartlen has only grown more convinced since chatting by chance
in the hall with the older gentleman from the hospital room next
Don Gibson has GBS as well, with legs so numb now that he is
confined to a wheelchair. It turns out that not only was he also
vaccinated against H1N1, but he got the shot just two days before
Hartlen, in the very same Markham doctors office.
Its way too coincidental, insists the slight
mom, her words slurred because the right side of her face will
not move. Its either a bad batch or a lot more people
are getting this than they are talking about.
Her 80-year-old neighbour is equally convinced that the H1N1
vaccine to blame. It must have been a bad batch, Gibson
believes. But nobody is saying anything. I know I signed
a piece of paper and theres no liability but its pretty
They are now comrades in arms, an unlikely duo who share a rare
illness and a similar vaccination history that no one wants to
According to the Public Health Agency, there are about 600-700
new GBS cases a year in Canada, caused usually by food-borne bacteria,
respiratory infections or surgery.
So far, the agency says they havent had any unusual spike
in GBS - theres been 22 cases following the H1N1 vaccination
- or .87 per million doses distributed. But Hartlen questions
how many GBS patients are actually being reported; she says she
was the one who finally called her local public health department
because no medical professional seemed interested in the possible
Not a single doctor weve talked with will even remotely
discuss that its the H1N1 shot, marvels Hartlen. They
almost pretend they dont hear you. They dont want
to alarm the public and they dont want you to stir up trouble.
So GBS patients like Hartlen and Gibson are on their own.
Right now, Quebec is the only province with a no-fault vaccine
injury compensation program in place.
Its a horror story of how little Ontario will do
to help patients that come down with this after the government
promotes it so much, complains her husband, Wayne Burke.
They have two little girls at home, just 4 and 2. He works full-time
at Telus; she was a self-employed business systems analyst. With
no family in Whitby, they flew in her parents from Nova Scotia,
but the elderly couple cant look after the kids indefinitely.
Meanwhile, Hartlen has been told it can take months - and up
to a year - before she completely regains all movement. So how
is the partially-paralyzed mom supposed to take care of two young
children until then?
If my kids were 10 and 12 it would be different. But a
four and two-year-old need 100% attention and I cant give
it to them, she worries.
So shes hardly unreasonable in expecting some kind of government
support. But after countless phone conversations with every level
of bureaucrat, shes learned there will be no such thing.
Theyre the ones who push this vaccine. They promote
it every five minutes on TV. So I do what they say and I get GBS
and theyre not going to help me?
I need help for my kids - Im not looking for anything
extravagant. Im not an ambulance chaser. I dont want
to sue anybody. I just want to get my kids looked after while
their father is at work.
Instead, there is only a shameful silence.
February 2, 2010