More Flu Shot Reactions

Desiree Jennings: A Flu Shot Gone Wrong

desiree jenningsCourtesy of Desiree Jennings

By Mary Kearl

You may have heard news reports about 25-year-old Desiree Jennings, the girl with the severe reaction to the seasonal flu shot. Her symptoms — the inability to walk forward, but the ability to run forward and walk backwards — even appeared as Google Trends, with searches related to her condition. Some believed it was all just a hoax. Her story is garnering celebrity attention, too — Generation Rescue, the organization founded by Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy to raise awareness about health and safety issues related to vaccines — has reached out to support Jennings.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advises against getting a flu shot if you’ve ever had a severe allergic reaction to eggs or to a previous flu shot. Additionally, if you have a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome — a condition which includes symptoms of fever, nerve damage and muscle weakness — that occurred after receiving influenza vaccine, you shouldn’t get the seasonal flu shot. The risk of “serious harm” or death from a flu shot, the CDC’s Web site explains, “is extremely small. However, a vaccine, like any medicine, may rarely cause serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. Almost all people who get influenza vaccine have no serious problems from it.”

Jennings, a Northern Virginian and AOL Employee (Full disclosure: This reporter and Desiree Jennings have never worked together before this interview.), who was healthy, training for a half marathon and a Washington Redskins Ambassador preparing to become a cheerleader, never suspected the health complications she is living with now. She is suffering from acute, viral post immunization encephalopathy and mercury toxicity with secondary respiratory and neurological deficits, which she believes is the direct result of the seasonal vaccination she received from her local grocery store chain in August 2009.

Initial reports and diagnoses indicated Jennings had dystonia, a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary muscle contractions that are sometimes painful. But, as of the most recent interview, Jennings’s treating physician believes she has acute, viral post immmunization encephalopathy, or a disease of the brain that alters brain function or structure and can include memory loss and personality changes.

In an interview with AOL Health, Jennings, she explains her diagnosis and how her life is forever changed. Watch the video below to hear Jennings talk about her condition.

Click Here to see Entire Interview:
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