“She wanted to get the vaccine because she just wanted to do her part, get vaccinated, hopefully get this COVID situation to end sooner rather than later,” said Jordan Stonehouse, 19.
Her mother, 52-year-old Lisa Stonehouse, received her first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine on April 21. Jordan said she had a fever for about two days after the dose, which was expected.
But eight days later, other symptoms appeared, Jordan said.
“My mom was telling me that she had heart palpitations, she was having chills, she was shaking, she was really nauseous.
“She had a very, very bad headache and the pressure in her head was just overwhelming for her. Those were the symptoms that made me want to take her to the hospital to make sure everything was OK.”
Jordan said her mom was hesitant to go to the ER but she dropped her off at Grey Nuns Hospital and was prepared to wait hours for her in the parking lot.
“My mom came out 10 minutes later maybe and she said the nurse told her they can’t help her, that she has to go home,” Jordan said. “The nurse told my mom to take a Tylenol.
“She did tell me she told them she got the vaccine a week ago and has been having these symptoms. I don’t know why they didn’t admit her. They were busy that night… It’s kind of scary and alarming.”
In a statement to Global News, Covenant Health said it was saddened to hear about the recent vaccine-related death.
“We offer our deepest condolences to her family and loved ones at this difficult time,” a spokesperson said.
“Covenant Health, in collaboration with Alberta Health Services, is actively investigating all circumstances surrounding her visit to the emergency department, and have assured the family we are looking into their concerns.”
Lisa’s symptoms didn’t go away, Jordan said. She gave her Tylenol, a lot of water, Tums and ibuprofen.
“On the Friday, she called me and she said she had to go to the hospital. And my mom, she was the type of woman if she had to go to the hospital, there was something wrong.”
Lisa was taken to the Strathcona Community Hospital, admitted and then a doctor asked to speak to the family, Jordan said.
“That’s when they informed us my mother had a blood clot in her brain and she had bleeding in her brain and she had to get rushed to the university hospital as fast as she could to get the help that she could.”
Jordan said her mom had a seizure on the way to the hospital and the bleeding got worse.
“At that point, there was really nothing the doctors could have done to save her life.”
She said the medical staff mentioned the blood clot was likely a rare reaction to the vaccine.
“I just wish she could’ve gotten the help. She’s my mom and I miss her so much. I just wish that there was something they could have done,” Jordan said.
In a news release issued Tuesday night, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the death of a woman in her 50s was confirmed to be linked to “vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT).”
“While any death is tragic, it is important to remember that the risks of dying or suffering other severe outcomes from COVID-19 remain far greater than the risk following AstraZeneca vaccine,” she said.
“The Alberta case marks the second VITT case and only death related to VITT out of more than 253,000 doses of AstraZeneca or CoviSHIELD/AstraZeneca that have been administered in Alberta to date.”
Hinshaw noted that the global frequency of VITT has been estimated at roughly one case in 100,000 to 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“In comparison, Albertans 50 to 59 who are diagnosed with COVID-19 are 350 times more likely to die from that infection than to experience VITT after an AstraZeneca vaccine. They are also at least 1,500 times more likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19 than experiencing VITT after getting AstraZeneca.”
Blood clots in vessels form when certain elements in the blood thicken and stick to each other, forming a semi-solid mass. This can happen after an injury or post-surgery.
Blood clotting can occur as a side effect to other common medications, such as birth control and hormone replacement therapy, during pregnancy, from long trips and due to smoking. COVID-19 patients can also develop severe blood clots when suffering from the disease.
Health Canada’s chief medical adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma said symptoms would include sudden, intense or persistent headaches, shortness of breath and pain or tenderness in the legs.
During a news conference Wednesday morning, Health Minister Tyler Shandro offered his condolences.
“My thoughts are with the patient’s family and all of her loved ones. It’s a tragedy for them.”
Shandro acknowledged the news may be a shock for anyone who has received or is thinking about getting the AstraZeneca vaccine, but he echoed Hinshaw’s comments, encouraging people to still get vaccinated and warning of the risks of a blood clot if diagnosed with COVID-19.
“This does not change the relative risks of vaccination or the message that people need to get vaccinated,” he said.
“With the risks from COVID as high as they currently are, the best vaccine is the one that’s available right now to anyone and everyone that is currently eligible.”
Shandro encouraged anyone with questions about the vaccine to speak to their doctor or another health-care professional.
Jordan said she isn’t against vaccines and acknowledges they help a lot of people. She even said she might still get her COVID-19 vaccine — just not right now.
“I’m just not mentally ready to get the vaccine. But one day, when there’s more information out… I think I will probably get it.
“This COVID situation is scary and it’s very serious and I do believe vaccines do help people and save people’s lives, but right now, at this moment in time, I’m not ready to get the vaccine.”
The 19-year-old is grieving the unexpected death of her mom just two years after losing her father.
“It’s been really hard… Losing my mom has been really devastating for me. She was my rock. I’m just going to live my life the way they wanted me to live it.
“I just want to be strong for them and I just want them to be proud of me,” Jordan said of her parents.
“My mom was just a great person… She was so happy and fun loving. Every time you were with her you couldn’t help but smile.”
Jordan’s godfather Will Lowenberg has created a GoFundMe page to help her with the estate and basic living expenses.
“There’s a lot of family and friends out there that, because of COVID… couldn’t be there,” he said. “They wanted to know they could support Jordan somehow.”