'I can't be the only one': N.S. man calls for access to non-mRNA boosters after rare adverse reaction
Jeff Ferguson still has the scars left behind after suffering a severe case of cutaneous vasculitis late last summer.
Symptoms of the inflammation of the small blood vessels appeared around 10 days after his second COVID-19 vaccination last July.
“First shot of Pfizer, I had maybe seven spots on my right leg. Second shot of Pfizer, I ended up getting 30 spots on my left leg,” said Ferguson.
According to Ferguson, those spots spread, and got worse. They were itchy, painful, and developed into sores.
He went to the doctor, which is where things got serious.
“He sent me directly to emergency because my heart was racing. They found out I had vasculitis, and my heart was at 154 with fluid in my lungs,” he said.
Ferguson was admitted immediately and spent nine days in hospital.
“I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t wear shoes,” he said. “It was very painful. You couldn’t let your legs touch together. It felt like someone was driving needles into your ankles.”
Cutaneous vasculitis is included on a list of reported adverse events of special interest by the Public Health Agency of Canada, with 32 incidents potentially related to COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of Jan. 14.
That means the incidence is extremely rare, considering there are almost 14.6 million eligible Canadians with third doses so far.
“There are lots of things that can trigger vasculitis,” says Dr. Kerri Purdy, a dermatologist and division head of Dalhousie University’s Division of Clinical Dermatology.
Purdy says she's never seen it in her practice after a COVID-19 vaccination, and that sometimes the exact cause of the disorder is unknown.
However, she adds, it is possible.
“We do know that infections and medications are very common triggers, and so it would stand to reason that a vaccination could also trigger it, as could a COVID infection,” she said.
Purdy says while there have been documented cases of cutaneous vasculitis in COVID-19 patients, she stresses that a connection to COVID-19 immunizations is not definitive at this point.
There is also data that shows the vaccines are effective protection against serious outcomes and hospitalization due to COVID-19.
However, Ferguson says having the reaction so soon after his vaccination is more than coincidence.
“It had to be; there was no other outside influence,” Ferguson says.
Ferguson says it took six weeks to physically get back on his feet again. He says he feels fine now, although he is on eight new medications.
Even after his experience, Ferguson still wants his booster to help protect himself against COVID-19.
“I work in the service industry in Halifax. I’m around a lot more people than most, so a booster would be perfect,” said Ferguson.
But there’s a catch.
While many Maritimers are rolling up their sleeves for another dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, Ferguson says he’s been told by health professionals that he can’t get boosted with an mRNA vaccine because of what happened. Currently, those vaccines are the only ones approved for a third dose in Canada.
“Every time you turn around, you know, you look at the TV, (it) says, ‘Get your booster.' The news stations, ‘Get your booster.' The newspaper, 'Get your booster,' and I can’t get one because they don’t have a non-mRNA one,” Ferguson said.
When asked, the province of Nova Scotia says it recognizes some people can't take mRNA vaccines and it's working on a solution.
“We are working with our partners to find a solution for people who can only receive a viral vector vaccine as a booster dose,” says a statement provided by Marla MacInnis, spokesperson for the Department of Health and Wellness. “As more information becomes available, it will be publicly communicated.”
CTV Atlantic asked Health Canada where the process stands in approving any viral vector vaccine as a booster. The department responded with an email statement late Wednesday afternoon.
"Health Canada is currently reviewing data on their safety and efficacy when given as a booster. As with all COVID-19 drugs and vaccines, Health Canada is prioritizing the reviews.
As these reviews are all still ongoing, it is not possible to predict when any regulatory decision will be made," the statement reads.
The statement continues with a reminder that Health Canada does not make vaccine recommendations for individual patients, which is up to health professionals
Meanwhile, Ferguson says he's sharing his experience, not to discourage vaccination, but to make sure boosters are available to everyone who needs them -- even people who’ve had rare adverse reactions.
When asked if he’s worried some might use his experience as an argument against vaccination, he says that’s not the point.
“It doesn’t even concern me, really. It’s my body and I can do with my body what I like, just like they can do with theirs,” said Ferguson.
He says he still believes in the science behind the COVID-19 vaccines and the protection they provide against the virus.
“It's proven that they actually work,” he says. “It's science, so it does work.”
Atlantic Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
The police official blamed for not sending officers in more quickly to stop the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting is the chief of the school system's small police force, a unit dedicated ordinarily to building relationships with students and responding to the occasional fight.
Speakers at the National Rifle Association annual meeting assailed a Chicago gun ban that doesn't exist, ignored security upgrades at the Texas school where children were slaughtered and roundly distorted national gun and crime statistics as they pushed back against any tightening of gun laws.
Fifty-eight-year-old Vivian Ketchum is set to receive her high school diploma at a graduation ceremony at the University of Winnipeg next month. It is a moment that is decades in the making.
The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos was met with justifiable criticisms and unfounded conspiracy theories.
An 11-year-old survivor of the Robb Elementary School massacre in Uvalde, Texas, feared the gunman would come back for her so she smeared herself in her friend's blood and played dead.
Students trapped inside a classroom with a gunman repeatedly called 911 during this week's attack on a Texas elementary school, including one who pleaded, 'Please send the police now,' as officers waited more than an hour to breach the classroom after following the gunman into the building, authorities said Friday.
Fragments of a comet broken nearly 30 years ago could potentially light up the night sky Monday as experts predict an 'all or nothing' spectacle.
A new report says Ottawa, Vancouver and Toronto rank among the top 20 cities around the world when it comes to work-life balance.
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra says the federal government is working with groups on the ground to resolve air travel 'bottlenecks' in time for a busy summer.
WATCH | New video appears to show man carrying air rifle on Toronto streets before being killed by police
A man shot dead by police officers near a Toronto elementary school on Thursday afternoon appears to have been captured on home security footage carrying an air rifle moments before the incident.
A 21-year-old Toronto man is facing a slew of charges following a suspected hate-motivated incident at a Jewish school in North York.
Toronto Pearson International is warning travellers and Mississauga residents they may notice unusual activity at the airport this weekend.
A southern Alberta man who killed three people, including a two-year-old girl, could have the ability to request a release from jail earlier than his original sentence intended, thanks to a landmark Supreme Court decision Friday.
Calgary Flames fans are still coming to terms with a playoff series loss to the Edmonton Oilers Thursday night in a game that saw both controversy and heartbreak following a Connor McDavid overtime goal.
Western Canada's premiers want to reform their health-care systems by expanding services but they say Ottawa first needs to pick up the phone.
Is it unconstitutional to make someone pay to get a legal document translated into French? One of Montreal's top lawyers thinks so, and pointed out two other things from Bill 96 that he thinks the courts would most easily find fault with.
Canada's highest court has ruled that Alexandre Bissonnette, who murdered six people at the Quebec City mosque in 2017, will be eligible for parole after 25 years.
Quebec says it is ready to vaccinate people who have come into close contact with monkeypox as soon as Friday.
A hotly-controversial decision on whether or not to freeze base funding for police in Edmonton was delayed Friday as fallout from a dispute between the mayor and the provincial justice minister continued to rattle political circles.
A 19-year-old man is in police custody after a shooting near Rogers Place after an Edmonton Oilers viewing party ended Thursday evening.
A shelter many expected to remain open until the end of June in Wetaskiwin, Alta., will close a month early.
Thursday evening, the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce hosted the 25th annual Bell Business Excellence Awards.
On Friday, there was a walk in Sudbury to remember the remains of 215 residential schoolchildren found in Kamloops, B.C., a year ago May 27.
Staff at the new Sault Metis Centre are getting set for the grand opening Saturday.
Saturday’s powerful storm left a lasting impact across Ontario as city crews continue to deal with the damage. Western University’s Northern Tornado Project reported that two EF-1 tornadoes touched down in London — and on Friday, Environment Canada confirmed it.
A London man is facing impaired-related charges after a vehicle he was driving collided with a gravel truck on Wednesday morning, according to police.
The London Police Service is requesting the public’s help with locating a person of interest after a gun was fired on Richmond Row in the early morning hours of Friday.
Pembina Trails School Division is confirming to CTV News that a group of students found a body during community cleanup at Ècole South Pointe School.
Winnipeg police are telling people to find an alternate route this afternoon as they are investigating a fatal crash near the St. Boniface Industrial Park.
'It's one way to be creative': Winnipeg student wants to be a bartender when older; school doesn't like comment in yearbook
Bartender. That is what one Grade 4 student said for the yearbook when asked what he wanted to be when he grows up, an answer the school is asking him to change.
As of Friday evening, 26,000 Hydro Ottawa customers remain without power in all neighbourhoods of the city.
Approximately 25,000 people will take part in Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend on Saturday and Sunday.
Ottawa Bylaw says the "mama and her 4 kittens" were abandoned outside the PetSmart on Innes Road sometime between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. Friday.
Barrett Ross says his dog Indy suffered a punctured bowel, lost a tooth and had his stomach injured when he was attacked by three other dogs.
The Saskatoon Tribal Council's (STC) temporary downtown shelter has been granted an extension to operate at its present location until April 2023 — but Tribal Chief Mark Arcand hopes to relocate well before then.
A pedestrian injured by a vehicle in Prince Albert has died.
A B.C. mom with a rare, debilitating illness has spent years trying to get the help she needs. Now she's considering medical assistance in dying.
The number of COVID-19 patients in B.C. hospitals hit its lowest point in more than a month this week, and the decline was driven largely by regions outside the Lower Mainland.
Researchers working in partnership with UBC believe an eco-friendly material could help solve the world’s plastic pollution problem.
Cyber security attacks happen every day, and as Regina Public Schools division discovered this week, no one is safe.
'Very upset': Senior housing residents plead for Sask. Housing Corporation to rebuild after winter fire
Former residents of a Carievale seniors housing complex want the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation (SHC) to reconsider its decision to demolish the home.
Premiers from western Canada met to discuss healthcare in their first face-to-face meeting in more than two years in Regina on Friday at the 2022 Western Premiers' Conference.
B.C. speedboat driver arrested with 650kg of meth 'feared for his family's safety,' he told U.S. investigators
New details are emerging after a 51-year-old Alberta man was arrested aboard a speedboat that U.S. authorities say was carrying 650 kilograms of methamphetamine between Washington state and British Columbia.
The emergency department at Port McNeill Hospital unexpectedly shut down on Friday evening due to a staffing shortage.
At least one building was destroyed Friday afternoon as firefighters rushed to a large fire at the vacant Pioneer Square Mall in Mill Bay, B.C.