Death of Windsor-Essex retirement home resident who received COVID-19 vaccine under investigation

The death of a Windsor-Essex retirement home resident who died after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is being investigated.

Top doctor stresses there is not necessarily a correlation between events

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported 173 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

The death of a Windsor-Essex retirement home resident who died after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is being investigated.

Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, said he could not provide details due to patient privacy concerns.

He said when it comes to adverse reactions, there can be a correlation or there can be two completely isolated events.

"Sometimes it's just the timing of one event versus the other," he said.

He stressed that based on the international data, the vaccine is safe and the most effective way of preventing COVID-19.

"Vaccine safety is a big topic in Canada as we know there are a number of reporting requirements that are there to make sure that the safety of these vaccines are monitored very closely at the local level, at the provincial level, at the federal level," he said.

He said any time there is any type of vaccine administered and an "adverse event" occurs, it is reported to the health unit. 

There are multiple agencies involved in the investigation, including public health, the retirement home and the coroner's office.

The health unit recorded 173 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and 15 deaths.

'Education is necessary'

Sabina Vohra-Miller, who has worked as a scientific advisor around vaccine hesitancy, says there's no reason to speculate about the resident's cause of death until an entire investigation has taken place. Yet, she said it's important to remind people that the vaccine is safe. 

"Millions of doses have been given world-wide and the vaccine is extremely safe and of course with any vaccine there will be side effects, you expect those to occur because that is your immune system going into overdrive and doing what it's supposed to be doing," said Vohra-Miller, who also has a degree in clinical toxicology and pharmacology. 

"But we have to understand that what we are working against is COVID and COVID is extremely dangerous and we have to put that into perspective." 

Sabina Vohra-Miller, who has done work around vaccine hesitancy, says education is key right now. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

But, she added, it is important that the investigation look into all possibilities and explore whether or not this person experienced a rare side effect. 

At the same time, she said science-based "education is necessary right now" so that people can understand what the vaccine does and how their body might react. 

"I think it's really important to remember that dismissing fears and concerns never works, that is not a strategy that will ever instill confidence in someone," she said, adding that those need to be addressed head on so that people are equipped with the right information. 


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