MILWAUKEE — Despite criticism from state and local health communities, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson held a press conference Monday with a handful of people who say that they experienced adverse reactions from the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has always said that a tiny percentage of people might experience adverse reactions to vaccines. But the group hosted by Sen. Johnson wants people to hear their stories in order to start a conversation.
The medical community has stressed the approved COVID-19 vaccines are safe and complications are extremely rare.
Candace Hayden was one of six people who came to share their stories during a press conference in Milwaukee. Hayden says she experienced several problems after getting the COVID-19 vaccine - although her doctor, and the doctors of most others at the press conference, refused to draw a connection to the vaccine.
"We are asking to be seen, we're asking to be heard, and we are asking to be believed. I was suffering from severe paresthesia and was partially paralyzed from the chest down," said Hayden.
From shooting pain in their bodies to being unable to move, attendees recalled the dreadful moments of what their life has since turned into after getting their vaccinations.
"I lost control of my legs, and my bladder, along with my dignity," said one participant, Brianne Dressen.
"On Jan. 14, I received the Moderna vaccine. The next morning, I woke up with severely swollen lymph nodes in my neck," said another participant, Sheryl Ruetgers.
Sen. Ron Johnson says he does recognize that the vaccine is saving lives. But in his eyes, he says the CDC and other health officials aren’t being fully transparent when it comes to the adverse reactions people can experience after getting their shot.
"Nobody wants to admit that there may be some problems. I think the American public should be able to have informed consent when deciding whether or not to take an experimental vaccine one way or the other," said Sen. Johnson.
Stephanie de Garay says her 12-year-old daughter Maddie participated in the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine trial last year, but has never been the same since.
"For the past five months, Maddie has been to the ER nine times, she has been hospitalized three times, for a total of two months in the hospital. She was totally fine before this, she did the right thing trying to help everybody else and they’re not helping her," said de Garay.
In the end, these participants say they just want others to know what they went through to hopefully keep it from happening to anyone else.
"That small minority that are suffering severe symptoms, they want to deny that reality. I am not advocating anything other than to listen to these people and to take them seriously," said Sen. Johnson.