May 21st, 2024

Vaccine exemption difficult to secure for local health care aide


By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on January 11, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

An unvaccinated southern Alberta health care aide says she was put on unpaid leave because she won’t get a COVID-19 jab due to reactions she’s previously had to booster shots.
The woman, who works at an assisted living facility in Raymond, says she is trying to get a medical exemption but between her family doctor and a specialist, she’s having difficulty getting one to sign off on it.
And the woman says she understands the difficulty physicians face in signing off on such exemptions but that doesn’t help her situation.
Kathy Ridenour says she’s had reactions to medications after getting booster shots for such common things as tetanus and hepatitis, those reactions starting after she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2006.
In an interview with The Herald in a follow-up to a letter, the 66-year-old Ridenour emphasized she’s not against vaccinations but because of her previous reactions, she is afraid to put her health at risk by being vaccinated for COVID-19.
“For me, because I’ve got such a hyper immune system, the vaccines seem to trigger more serious reactions to other meds. That’s my experience,” said Ridenour Thursday.
“I had to get a series of booster shots for my vaccines a few years back,” said Ridenour. “I did that and after that, the reactions I had to other medications seemed to escalate to the more severe reactions.
“I don’t take a lot of meds, I don’t even take Tylenol or aspirin or anything like that,” she said.
“I’ve had reactions that have taken me two years to recover from.”
In the letter outlining her health issues, Ridenour wrote “I wholeheartedly endorse the COVID vaccine and commend those who have been fully vaccinated. I understand the ramifications of this pandemic.”
Ridenour also writes “In 2012, I immigrated to the U.S. and received booster vaccines at that time. Since getting those booster vaccines, my immune system went into hyperdrive and the reactions to medications escalated to the very rare, very severe, long lasting and debilitating reactions.”
Ridenour said her situation is frustrating. She’s not in a position yet to retire and is dedicated to her patients.
“I have some really good doctors and right now my heart is kind of going out to them because they are put in what I think is a very difficult situation,” she said.
I’m in a difficult situation because I need to work, I need the money. ”
Ridenour first asked her family doctor for an exemption but was told he would feel more comfortable if it came from her specialist because that physician deals with autoimmune diseases, she said.
“My specialist said he doesn’t have enough contact with me to feel that his medical exemption would carry any weight so he’s referring it back to my family doctor,” said Ridenour.
“Both of them are saying they think I have valid reasons for not getting the vaccine given my history but because the vaccine mandate is so specific, you have to take the vaccine and have an adverse reaction to the vaccine, to be exempt from taking the vaccine,” she added.
“We are all not one-size-fits-all humans. We’re individuals. There is some leeway in the vaccine medical accommodation but it’s still very limited. You have to react just to a few ingredients that are in the vaccines themselves before you can become exempt from it.
“That doesn’t leave doctors any leeway for people with autoimmune dysfunction like I do to make a decision in my best interest,” said Ridenour who has been off work since Dec. 1.
As of deadline, The Herald did not get a response back from the society that operates the facility that employs Ridenour. But the Alberta government website lists the conditions under which an exemption can be granted. They include:
* Had an anaphylactic reaction following the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, has been assessed by an allergist/immunologist, and future doses of any COVID-19 vaccine (viral vector or mRNA) are contraindicated, Developed a serious adverse event following COVID-19 immunization (e.g., Guillain-Barré syndrome, Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM)) and a MOH has determined that future doses of COVID-19 vaccine are contraindicated, or; Had an anaphylactic reaction to a component of COVID-19 vaccine that restricts administration of any COVID-19 vaccines available in Canada.
Medical deferrals from getting a second COVID-19 vaccination are also available in some situations. These can be due to a person who:
* Developed myocarditis following the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and it is recommended to defer the second dose of mRNA vaccine until more data is available,
* Developed a serious adverse event following COVID-19 immunization (e.g.; Bell’s palsy) following immunization and MOH has recommended deferral of second dose until individual has recovered,
* Had an anaphylactic reaction following the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and awaiting allergist assessment, or
* Solid organ transplant recipients or Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant (HSCT) recipients post transplant until clearance is received to resume immunization.

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