Adverse COVID-19 Vaccine Complications and Long-Term Disability Benefits

By Matt Lalande in Long-Term Disability on May 13, 2022

Adverse COVID-19 Vaccine Complications and Long-Term Disability Benefits

Modern medicine is full of incredible inventions and discoveries that allow society to function as it does today. One of these is the development of vaccinations (or vaccines), a solution created to help the body’s own immune system combat infection and sickness. The decrease in deadly viral infections like polio and tuberculosis can be directly linked to the development and distribution of vaccines; in fact, a 2001 study on childhood vaccinations prevented 33,000 deaths and 14 million cases of illness. More recently, many governments and medical experts have accredited dropping numbers of COVID-19 cases to increasing rates of vaccination. 

However, no cure is ever perfect, and vaccines are no exception. From mild side effects to severe allergic reactions and even long-term disability, vaccines come with inherent risks to the patient. While it’s arguable that the benefits of vaccines to society as a whole might outweigh the potential dangers to the individual, the risk of developing long-term disability from a vaccine remains a very real possibility. 

Lately however, our Ontario disability lawyers have met with an inordinate amount of new clients who have seemingly suffered serious and permanent after-effects related to the COVID-19 vaccine. We have spoken to several claimants recently who have been denied long-term disability after developing post-immunizations conditions such as Bells Palsy, cardiac issues and other neurological adverse events such as continuous difficulty with limb and trunk movements, difficulty walking, balance or dexterity issues immediately after COVID-19 vaccine administration. 

Physicians that we have talked to are hesitant to causally link a person’s neurological and other physical ailments to the COVID-19 vaccine – yet many potential new clients that we speak to tell us that they were were perfectly fine before getting immunized. Make no mistake however, adverse events following COVID-19 immunization are real. The Province of Ontario released a 31 Page Report in April of 2022 which provided a summary of adverse events following immunization (AEFIs) that are temporally associated (i.e., occur after receiving the vaccine) with receipt of COVID-19 vaccine and meet the provincial surveillance definitions (i.e., confirmed).  In addition, the federal Government releases up to date reports in regard to the potential side-effects and/or safety signals of the Vaccine.

Now, most adverse physiological events following COVID-19 vaccination are generally mild and transient, like fever/chills, headache, fatigue, myalgia and arthralgia, or local injection site effects like swelling, redness, or pain. These mild symptoms are quite common following administration of all kinds of COVID-19 vaccines.

Less common, of course, are more permanent and serious adverse effects of the vaccine which could cause serious allergic reactions or long-term health problems.  Over the past few years, serious adverse reactions, symptoms and conditions have been reported following immunization – reactions which are life-threatening, which requiring hospitalization, or even result in severe and permanent disability

Now, we are not proponents of anti-vaccination. We are non-discriminatory in relation to people’s choices regarding whether or not to obtain the immunization.  What we do know and support is that as of mid-2022, COVID-19 vaccines have now been in used for 2 years, with over 11.7 billion doses given worldwide. Evidence absolutely indicates that the benefits of COVID-19 vaccines continue to outweigh the risks of the disease.

What is the COVID-19 vaccine?

A vaccine in general is a solution that is designed to simulate an infection in the body. After the vaccine is injected into the body, the body detects the presence of the vaccine and recognizes the threat, which causes the body to react as if it were defending against a real threat. A key part of this defence is the creation of antibodies which are proteins produced by the immune system to fight disease. 

After being exposed to a vaccine, the body’s immune system remembers and is able to respond more effectively when there is a real threat, such as in the case of a real viral infection. Without prior exposure to the vaccine, the body would not be able to respond to a real infection effectively, meaning a greater likelihood of more serious side effects and a longer recovery period. In cases of viruses that are more aggressive and have no cure, not being vaccinated can even mean death. 

The COVID-19 vaccine is a vaccine which was formulated to provide immunity, as best it could, against SARS‑CoV‑2, which is the virus that causes the coronavirus disease that began to spread worldwide in 2019.

There are vaccine variants developed by different labs – the most common being mRNA vaccines. Pfizer and Moderna are by far the most common. These vaccines were created to stimulate an immune response. mRNA vaccines are not like typical vaccines that put an “inactivated germ” into our bodies. Rather, mRNA vaccines are lab created vaccines that are used to teach our cells how to make protein. That protein would then trigger an immune response inside the body. That immune response then produces antibodies and protects us from getting infected by the virus that causes COVID-19.  The body then learns how to protect itself against future infection from the virus that causes COVID-19.

Some interesting facts regarding mRNA vaccines:

  • mRNA vaccines do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19
  • mRNA never enters the nucleus of the cell where our DNA (genetic material) is located, so it cannot change or influence our genes.
  • Our body rids itself of it within a few days after vaccination.
  • The spike protein that enters our body, may stay in the body up to a few weeks.
  • Almost all the ingredients in COVID-19 vaccines are also ingredients in many foods – fats, sugars, and salts.
  • COVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way.

Reported Serious Adverse Effects following the COVID-19 Vaccine

A “serious adverse reaction” following immunization is defined as a post-vaccination event that is either life-threatening, requires hospitalization, or result in severe disability.  Critics of the COVID-19 vaccine say that the speed at which the vaccine was developed and rolled out for general use is troubling, given the number of AEFI that have been associated with vaccines for other infections. Since December 2020, data about AEFI in cases of COVID-19 vaccine have been collected by governments around the world and by the pharmaceutical companies themselves. While rare, there have been cases of severe adverse reactions following COVID-19 vaccinations. The following are some reported adverse reactions that people have suffered after being administered the COVID-19 vaccine:

Anaphylaxis – is an allergic reaction that triggers the immune system and causes the airway to quickly narrow; if proper medical attention is not given quickly, it can lead to death. Cases of anaphylaxis have been reported after vaccinations of many kinds, and have been noted after the administration of the COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. 

Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) – is a disorder of the immune system that results in weakness of the muscle and occasionally paralysis. Cases of GBS have been reported as AEFI following Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines, mainly in men over the age of 50.

Brain Disorders – there have been many reports of acute brain disorders like encephalopathy, seizures, acute disseminated encephalopathy, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, and post-vaccine encephalitis described secondary to COVID-19 vaccine.

Encephalitis, meningitis, and myelitis – are inflammatory conditions of various parts of the brain that have been observed in AEFI following the administration of COVID-19 vaccines. 

Intracerebral hemorrhage a recent study reported vaccine patients who developed intracerebral hemorrhage after receiving the Moderna mRNA vaccine.

Hemorrhagic stroke – is a serious medical event where blood from an artery begins to spill into the brain; AEFI cases have also been reported following COVID-19 vaccines. 

Acute Ischemic Stroke –  which is the sudden loss of blood circulation to an area of the brain which causes the loss of neurologic function. A recent study reported

Functional neurological disorder – (FND) is a neurological issue that has been identified as an AEFI in a number of individuals, following their COVID-19 vaccines. Formerly referred to as ‘conversion disorder’, individuals who have FND display stroke-like symptoms (e.g. weakness, paralysis, loss of balance and numbness). FND can develop as a response to minor illness or injury. In some cases of people taking the COVID-19 vaccine, there have been accounts of illness or extreme soreness as a result of the vaccine. Medical professionals suspect that FND is occurring as an AEFI in these individuals, whose bodies have stronger reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine. A recent study reported that two females presented with functional motor deficits mimicking stroke. Both these patients had variability in weakness and had many non-specific symptoms.

Myocarditis and pericarditis – are cases of inflammation of the heart; myocarditis affects the heart muscle, while pericarditis is the inflammation of the outer lining. There were AEFI reports of either myocarditis or pericarditis in young adults who had received either Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines. 

Several acute arterial events – like arterial thrombosis, intracerebral hemorrhage, transient global amnesia, and spinal artery ischemia, have also been reported following vaccination

Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis – is one of the most devastating neurological post-vaccination complications reported. Cerebral venous sinus is frequently reported in females of childbearing age, generally following adenovector-based vaccination.   Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) is a condition that can result in the formation of blood clots in the bloodstream. These clots can go on to cause pain and swelling and can lead to serious complications such as strokes and heart attacks, and even death.

Bell’s Palsy – is another major neurological complication of concern. Two of our clients developed Bell’s Palsy following mRNA vaccine administration. A recent study reported that Bell’s palsy is a rare adverse event which was reported in clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines.  One of our two current clients developed Bell’s palsy rather quickly, several days after being vaccinated against COVID-19.  She suffered common adverse effects of the vaccine, then she noticed overall muscle weakness on the right side of her face and was unable to drink fluids. She developed a facial droop, speech issues, problems raising her eyelids and was ultimately diagnosed with facial palsy. Her issue is that she, herself, is a dental surgeon and now she is unable to maintain the substantial duties of her own occupation.  

Transverse Myelitis – characterized as lower back pain, abnormal sensation in the lower limbs, paresthesia in both feet, and pain in lower extremities difficulty in walking and urinary retention.

Tinnitus – there have been reports of tinnitus post-vaccine – which is a high-pitch sound that disturbs the normal hearing. The tinnitus was often reported after the onset of high fever with chills and myalgia.

Acute Vision Loss – there have been reports of people who developed acute visual impairment following the 2nd dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Pfizer BioNTech’s report on AEFI in cases of COVID-19 vaccines

In February 2021, Pfizer BioNTech released the report on observed AEFI in individuals who had received the company’s COVID-19 vaccine. This report was missed by many and overshadowed by the Ukraine-Russian war, unfortunately.

A total of 42,086 cases of AEFI were noted, including nervous system disorders, cardiac disorders, respiratory disorders, skin and tissue disorders, and others:

Lymphatic system disorders: 1,942 cases of lymphadenopathy were reported, a blood disorder affecting the lymph nodes. 

Cardiac disorders: the report included over 1,000 cases of tachycardia, a condition resulting in an irregularly fast heartbeat. 

Intestinal disorders: 12% of all patients experienced nausea; cases of diarrhea and vomiting were also cited. 

Muscle/bone disorders: 3,959 individuals reported pain in their extremities (such as in the fingers and toes) and there were 4,915 cases of muscle ache. 

Nervous system disorders: nearly a quarter of all cases reported experiencing headaches, and there were also reports of paraesthesia or a prickling sensation that usually occurs in the limbs, like the hands and feet. 

Respiratory disorders: individuals experienced coughing and difficulty breathing.

Skin issues: there were over a thousand reports of individuals developing a rash, as well as a feeling of itchiness. 

Pfizer BioNTech’s report also focused on adverse events of special interest (AESI). These are cases of AE that warranted additional attention because of the severity of these conditions:

Cardiovascular (heart-related) AESI: there were a total of 1,403 cardiovascular AESI, including cardiac failure, heart attacks, arrhythmia (an irregular heartbeat), coronary artery disease, and tachycardia. 

COVID-19 AESI: more than 3,000 individuals were reinfected with COVID-19, including 1,927 positive cases. 

Hematological (blood-related) AESI: issues included thrombocytopenia, hematoma (or bruising causing internal bleeding), and hemorrhaging, or bleeding, around the eye, rectum or vaccination site. 

Facial paralysis AESI: 449 individuals experienced some degree of facial paralysis or facial paresis (weakness in facial muscles) 

Autoimmune AESI: over a thousand cases were reported of people developing autoimmune conditions like hypersensitivity, myocarditis, pericarditis, encephalitis, and psoriasis, as a result of their COVID-19 vaccine. 

Musculoskeletal AESI: 3,600 cases were reported, including multiple accounts of chronic fatigue syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis. 

Neurological AESI: over 500 individuals developed various neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), epilepsy, Guillain-Barre syndrome, ataxia, narcolepsy, meningitis and others. Symptoms observed as a result of these conditions included foaming at the mouth, tongue biting, and tonic-clonic seizures. 

Respiratory AESI: cases included respiratory failure, hypoxia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and chronic respiratory syndrome. 

Many other cases of AE were observed in Pfizer BioNTech’s report, including instances of stroke, pulmonary embolisms, renal failure and others. From the company’s own account, it’s evident that the health of thousands of individuals was affected as a result of taking the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. While the COVID-19 vaccine might help prevent you from contracting COVID-19, there are many potentially serious side effects that are worth knowing about. 

Can you get disability benefits if you suffer serious health complications following the COVID-19 vaccine?

Extremely serious adverse effects are rare, and the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccination continues to outweigh the risks, but serious COVID-19 adverse effects can no doubt cause issue that can make it difficult for individuals to return to the workplace and worse, can result in long-term or even permanent disability.

Although not overly publicized, a wide spectrum of serious neurological complications have been reported following COVID-19 vaccination which for many people, have been life-altering. The most devastating neurological complication reported is, of course, cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, which has been reported in females of childbearing age following astra-zeneca vaccines. Another major neurological complication of concern is Bell’s palsy which has been reported dominantly following mRNA vaccine administration. Myocarditis is also another serious but rare heart condition that has been reported at a higher prevalence than expected among some people who received the mRNA vaccine.

Suffering a severe COVID-19 vaccine related adverse effect can no doubt be life-changing and financially devastating. Whether you suffer from a cognitive disorder, respiratory disorder, cardiac disorder, immune system disorder, vascular disorder – the symptoms can no doubt impair your ability to do your job. For example, a lifetime salesperson that suffers Bell’s policy as a result of the vaccine, and who suffers severe disfigurement and other related Bell’s Palsy symptoms can suffer complete and total work impairment. If one does a physical job and suffers neurologically related adverse effects and mobility issues, your ability to work can no doubt be affected.

What matters most is whether or not you suffer a “total disability” as defined in your disability policy

When determining if you qualify for long-term disability benefits is whether or not you suffer a total disability pursuant to your long-term disability policy definition.

A person would be considered totally disabled and unable to carry on his or her own occupation, if the disability prevents him or her from performing the substantial duties of that occupation and from carrying out its major functions.

Most long-term disability policies will typically change after 24 months. At that point, the definition of total disability typically switches to that of “any occupation”, which means that you, as the claimant, must be unable to perform the activities of any occupation for which you are reasonably suited by reason of your education, training and experience.

Therefore, if you suffer serious vaccine related adverse effects, which prevent you from completing the substantial duties of your own occupation, then you should be entitled to long-term disability benefits.

If after two years, you’re still suffering from the long-term effects of the vaccine, you may then well be entitled to continued payment of your monthly long-term disability if you satisfy the change of definition – or that of “any occupation”. The payment will continue so long as you remain disabled as per your disability policy definition or until you turn 65.

Unfortunately at this point, the long-term effects and implications of the COVID-19 vaccines are still quite unknown. Although there are clearly reported adverse events which are very serious, these reported events are still quite rare.

If you’ve suffered rare adverse health effects as a result of the COVID-19 vaccine, you cannot work and your disability carrier has denied or cut-off your long-term disability benefits we can help. We have been litigating long-term disability cases since 2003 and have recovered millions in wrongfully denied benefits since for claimants all over Ontario.

Disability claims are very complex – it’s important that you get advice from someone who is knowledgeable and experience in disability law.

Our disability lawyers never charge for consultations and if we decide to work together, there is no payment required up front to retain our services.

Call us today no matter where you are in Ontario at 1-844-LALANDE or local throughout Southern Ontario 905-333-8888 or alternatively, contact us online through our website and someone will return your inquiry promptly.

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