Dr Kerryn Phelps reveals wife’s ‘devastating’ vaccine injury, calls for urgent COVID plan
Dr Kerryn Phelps and her wife Jackie Stricker-Phelps both had adverse reactions to their COVID jabs. Photo: AAP
Former MP Dr Kerryn Phelps has spoken out about her wife’s “severe” reaction to the COVID jab as she warned about the direction of Australia’s current handling of the pandemic.
Dr Phelps revealed her wife of 24 years, former teacher Jackie Stricker-Phelps, was still suffering the vaccine injury more than a year later, but the TGA had not followed it up, despite their reporting it.
She said it was a subject doctors faced “threats” over and were “censored” from speaking about, but she wanted to raise awareness.
Dr Phelps is a former president of the Australian Medical Association, a health communicator for 37 years, a former member for Wentworth and an ex-Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney.
In a wide-ranging 18-page submission to the federal government’s long COVID inquiry, Dr Phelps warned there were many ongoing silent impacts of the pandemic affecting everyday Australians.
These included the insidious health toll of long COVID, of which very little is known, as well as reinfection and poor communication on possible adverse reactions to the vaccines.
On long COVID, of which there are some 200 symptoms, Dr Phelps warned the nation was facing a “catastrophic toll of disability”.
“Despite knowing about long COVID for over two years now, Australia does not have reliable data on the numbers of people affected, or how they are impacted,” she wrote.
“There is no apparent comprehensive plan for its management.”
The most common symptoms are shortness of breath, fatigue, and trouble thinking clearly or concentrating (also called brain fog.)
People also complain of loss of taste or smell or an altered sense of taste and smell, chest pain, poor exercise tolerance, insomnia, anxiety, impaired vision, depression, and mood swings, digestive problems, joint and muscle pains, headaches, and other neurological symptoms.
Dr Phelps said emerging information on long COVID indicated “we should be proceeding with far greater caution”.
“This virus is starting to demonstrate the extent of the risk of long-term effects on the body especially the immune system, lungs, brain, and cardiovascular system,” she wrote.
“The absence of an honest, effective and trustworthy public health campaign has left a space for misinformation fuelled by vested interests and has generated a lot of confusion, aided and abetted by many of the mainstream media.”
Wife’s vaccine injury
Dr Phelps also raised concerns about the taboo subject of vaccine injury which she said was something “few in the medical profession have wanted to talk about”.
“Regulators of the medical profession have censored public discussion about adverse events following immunisation, with threats to doctors not to make any public statements about anything that ‘might undermine the government’s vaccine rollout’ or risk suspension or loss of their registration,” she wrote.
She said Australia did not know the scale of the problem because of such under-reporting.
“This is an issue that I have witnessed first-hand with my wife who suffered a severe neurological reaction to her first Pfizer vaccine within minutes, including burning face and gums, paraesethesiae, and numb hands and feet, while under observation by myself, another doctor and a registered nurse at the time of immunisation,” she wrote.
“I continue to observe the devastating effects a year and a half later with the addition of fatigue and additional neurological symptoms including nerve pains, altered sense of smell, visual disturbance and
“The diagnosis and causation has been confirmed by several specialists who have told me that they have seen “a lot” of patients in a similar situation.
“Jackie asked me to include her story to raise awareness for others.”
She said the worst she and her wife had been told to expect before they were vaccinated was anaphylaxis and that severe reactions such as myocarditis and pericarditis were “rare”.
“I was also diagnosed with a vaccine injury from my second dose of Pfizer vaccine in July 2021, with the diagnosis and causation confirmed by specialist colleagues.
“I have had CT pulmonary angiogram, ECG, blood tests, cardiac echogram, transthoracic cardiac stress echo, Holter monitor, blood pressure monitoring and autonomic testing.
“In my case the injury resulted in dysautonomia with intermittent fevers and cardiovascular implications including breathlessness, inappropriate sinus tachycardia and blood pressure fluctuations.
“These reactions were reported to the TGA at the time, but never followed up.”
She said other doctors she had spoken to had themselves experienced a serious and persistent adverse event including cardiological, rheumatological, autoimmune reactions and neurological consequences.
“Patients and other members of the community have told me
about their stories.
“They have had to search for answers, find GPs and specialists who are interested and able to help them, spend large amounts of money on medical investigations, isolate from friends and family, reduce work hours, lose work if they are required to attend in person and avoid
social and cultural events.”
Long COVID inquiry
The federal parliamentary committee examining the impact of long COVID-19 in Australia has received more than 500 submissions from medical experts and patients.
Medical experts are calling on the federal government to roll out a public education campaign about the risks of long COVID-19 and how to access health support.
The committee’s final report will make recommendations about how the government could improve data collection, boost research and support Australians living with the disease.
Long COVID is where symptoms of the virus continue or develop several weeks after the initial infection.
The World Health Organisation has estimated between 10 and 20 per cent of people who have had COVID will experience ongoing symptoms such as extreme exhaustion, cognitive impairment, breathlessness, heart palpitations and more.
Dr Phelps backed a national health campaign to educate people about the risks of long COVID and called for further research into its causes.
“Australia needs a long-term, comprehensive plan NOW to minimise transmission, Long COVID and reinfection.
“This does not mean a return to draconian lockdowns.”
A joint submission by the Australian Psychological Society and Phoenix Australia said the mental health impacts of the disease must not be underestimated.
The bodies urged the government to fund ongoing and sustained research on the disease as well as launch an education campaign about its effects and how to access treatment.
It also called for research into the role health anxiety could play in exacerbating long COVID symptoms.
“A large number of people with long COVID have found it very difficult to advocate for themselves,” the submission said.
“Many report that their problem-solving skills have been impacted and with increased anxiety levels it has been hard for them to ‘navigate the system’ to get assistance and try to make sense of the symptoms alone.”