Woman, 95, 'totally incapacitated' after receiving 3 doses of COVID-19 vaccine
TORONTO -- A 95-year-old woman in Toronto has been stuck in a hospital for more than two weeks after mistakenly receiving a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Brenda Whalen received her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at her Toronto retirement home in late February, but just two days later received another dose at North York General Hospital while she was visiting for treatment of a leg injury.
Gwen Cole, Brenda’s daughter, told CTVNews.ca that doctors told her they had an extra dose of the vaccine and checked with her mother’s retirement home, who told them that she had not received her second dose as scheduled.
“I'm thinking: ‘She went to the hospital that day, so it is quite possible that she didn't get it because she was going to the hospital,’” Cole said Thursday in a phone interview.
Shortly after speaking with the hospital and consenting to the vaccine, Whalen’s retirement home contacted Cole to tell the hospital not to administer the vaccine as she had in fact received her second dose two days prior, but it was too late.
Cole said doses at the retirement home are administered through Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto and not the home itself, which may have led to the miscommunication.
North York General Hospital declined to comment, citing “privacy and patient confidentiality obligations.”
In a statement, Wolf Klassen, vice president of program support at Michael Garron Hospital, said the hospital has been vaccinating essential workers and residents in long-term care homes since December and all vaccinations are “recorded in a provincial documentation system.”
“We are currently reviewing the details of this case in collaboration with North York General Hospital however privacy laws restrict us from publicly talking about specific details of patient care,” Klassen wrote in the statement. “We are wishing Brenda Whalen a speedy recovery from her recent hospitalization.”
Revera, the company operating Whalen’s retirement home, have not responded to requests for comment from CTV News Toronto.
Cole said her mother had some complications after the first dose, including trouble breathing when walking, but doctors could not determine the problem. Things got progressively worse with the second and third doses.
“She went overnight from being totally able to take care of herself -- she did have a caregiver that dressed her in the morning and at night because she has bad arthritis, but mentally she was totally there -- to absolutely not being able to talk to her,” she said.
Cynthia Whalen, another of Whalen’s daughters, told CTVNews.ca that her mother also became increasingly confused after each dose.
“She's totally incapacitated,” Cynthia said. “She has no idea, not only that it's me … but that there's anybody there most times. She can't eat. She can't walk.”
“I don't think I'll ever have a conversation with her again.”
Cynthia said her mother was not in the best of shape before her vaccine and had an asymptomatic infection of COVID-19 back in December, so the extra dose and her mother’s condition may be coincidental, but doctors haven’t been able to figure out what’s wrong with her.
“They originally thought it was a stroke, but they've done scans and so forth, and there's nothing wrong that they can find,” Cynthia said.
Cole said a neurologist looking into the matter and said the issue appears to be “flu-like symptoms,” rather than a neurological issue.
“I'm not saying that the vaccines have put her in this, but they cannot find any reason for her to be in this state,” she said.
Whalen said once her mother is released from hospital, she will need increased care, which could mean additional costs and separating her parents -- who have been married for 70 years -- in different units.
“She's going to need feeding… she's going to need her medication given to her. So that's an additional $8,000 from what we're already paying,” Cynthia said.
Cole wonders why her mother’s vaccine history isn’t attached to her health-card records, which could’ve given doctors the notice that she had received two doses already.
“You would think that that would be something that would be done immediately,” she said. “I would have thought that it would be on my information.”
This isn’t the first time someone was sent to hospital after mistakenly receiving an additional dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Last month, 91-year-old Victor Smith was sent to an Ohio hospital after receiving two doses of the COVID-19 on the same day and going into shock.
A previous version of this story indicated that Brenda Whalen received her second and third doses on back-to-back days, but they were two days apart. The previous version also stated that the hospital had not reached the retirement home, but Gwen Cole has since said that the retirement home told the hospital that Whalen had not received a second dose.