Kansas woman’s obituary claims she died from reaction to COVID-19 vaccine

Published: Mar. 25, 2021 at 1:40 PM CDT
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EFFINGHAM, Kan. (KWCH) - An investigation is underway into whether an Atchison County woman died from the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to an obituary at the Becker-Dyer-Stanton Funeral Home, 68-year-old Jeanie M. Evans, of Effingham “died unexpectedly on Wednesday, March 24, 2021 at the Stormont-Vail Hospital from a reaction to the Covid vaccine.”

On Thursday, Eyewitness News reached out to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KHDE) regarding Evans’ death. The agency issued the following statement:

“KDHE became aware this morning of a death of a 68-year-old Atchison County resident. The resident was vaccinated in Jefferson County, and according to the Local Health Department, appropriate CDC guidelines were followed. During the waiting period following the vaccine administration, the individual began experiencing anaphylaxis and medical treatment was provided. The resident was transported to a local hospital where the individual later passed away. The death will be fully investigated in accordance with standard protocol. Until the investigation is complete, it is premature to assign a specific cause of death.

The Local Health Department entered the death into VAERS, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, a national vaccine safety surveillance program run by Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Anytime a death or any adverse event occurs post vaccination, the case must be reported into VAERS. This process allows the CDC and FDA to monitor adverse events that could be related to the vaccination. As is standard protocol for any death reported in VAERS, it will be fully reviewed. The VAERS report will help to inform a more thorough investigation that can conclusively identify the specific cause of death of the individual.

Our thoughts and condolences go out to the individual’s family.”

Evans’ family suspects the vaccine caused her death due to a rare severe allergic reaction. There have been more than 100 million shots given across the U.S. and more than a million in Kansas. The vast majority only report mild side effects, but from the beginning, the CDC has warned of allergic reactions in some people.

“This severe immunological reaction to the COVID vaccine has been described, was described in clinical trials. It is known to occur, albeit a very rare entity it’s less than one in a million. You don’t know whether you’re one of those people,” said Dr. Tom Moore, an infectious disease doctor with Wesley Healthcare.

Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can cause sudden cardiovascular collapse, and in some cases, death.

“Most people who developed this very rare problem with the vaccine already had a history of a brisk immune reaction to a variety of things specifically anaphylaxis and significant food allergies, that sort of thing. The vast majority of people who have food allergies and have who have seasonal allergies and have allergies to certain medications can still get the vaccine and not have any problems at all,” said Dr. Moore.

Vaccine trials show the reaction is a possibility with the COVID-19 vaccine, but experts say it’s extremely rare and still encourages you to get the vaccine. So far, 133 million Americans have received the vaccine, a report last month said there are 62 reports of confirmed anaphylaxis have been confirmed, 46 after the Pfizer vaccine and 16 after the Moderna vaccine. However, none lead to deaths.

“You have more of a chance of being struck by lightning,” said Dr. Moore.

Moore said vaccine clinics should also have the supplies on hand to treat adverse reactions. For example, we know the Sedgwick County vaccine clinic has epi-pens and other supplies available for this exact reason.

While VAERS says 22 people in Kansas died within days of receiving the vaccine, they may not be directly linked to it.

“When you pull up those 22 results, that doesn’t mean 22 people are dying from the vaccine, but unfortunately, that a death occurred in close proximity to getting the vaccine, and that needs to be reported and investigated to see if it’s due to the vaccine or something else that happened to them,” said Dr. Tiffany Schwasinger-Schmidt with KU School of Medicine in Wichita.

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