MIAMI (CBSMiami / CNN) – The Miami-Dade Medical Examiner says the death of a South Florida doctor has not been definitively linked to the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine he took weeks earlier.
Dr. Gregory Michael, who practiced at Mount Sinai Medical Center, died two weeks after taking the vaccine.
His widow, Heidi Neckelmann, wrote on Facebook: “He was a very healthy, 56-year-old loved by everyone in the community, gave birth to hundreds of healthy babies and worked tirelessly during the pandemic. I think people need to be aware that side effects can happen. ”
Neckelmann also said her husband had a hemorrhagic stroke due to a lack of platelets. He reportedly had an unusual case of severe thrombocytopenia, a condition that reduces the body̵
Neckelmann said he sought emergency care three days after receiving the vaccine after seeing spots on his skin indicating internal bleeding.
Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease specialist and professor of medicine at FIU, told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench “Every death like this is very tragic. He was a colleague and I feel the loss of Dr. Michael quite deeply. ”
“There is nothing in the clinical trials to suggest that this is a likely result of the vaccine itself. That said, we are always learning new things. This is a new situation and we need to investigate it very carefully, ”she added. “You have to look at the many millions of people who have been vaccinated around the world with these vaccines and compare it to what is going on around the world with death and disease due to COVID-19. I know the doctor is first class in Miami-Dade and will be able to give us details that explain exactly what happened. ”
The Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner is working with the Florida Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate Michael’s death.
Although it was not definitively linked to the vaccine, it is among the options being explored, according to Darren Caprara, director of operations at the doctor’s office.
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Caprara said Michael received a vaccine around Dec. 19 and died “late January 3 to 4.”
An autopsy was performed Tuesday, Caprara said, with the cause of death pending completion of examinations by the doctor and partner agencies.
Pfizer also said it was investigating.
“Pfizer and BioNTech are aware that a healthcare professional will die sixteen days after receiving a first dose,” Pfizer said in a statement. “It is a very unusual clinical case of severe thrombocytopenia, a condition that reduces the body’s ability to clot blood and stop internal bleeding,” it added.
“We are actively investigating this matter, but at present we do not believe there is any direct link to the vaccine,” the company said in the statement.
“There have been no related safety signals identified in our clinical trials, previous marketing experience or with the mRNA vaccine platform. To date, millions of people have been vaccinated, and we closely monitor all side effects in people who receive our vaccine. ”
CDC officials said Wednesday that they had not seen any worryingly severe reactions to coronavirus vaccines other than 29 cases of severe allergic reactions.
According to the CDC, more than 5.3 million people have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine in the United States.
In its statement Wednesday night, the agency said it regularly reviews safety data with other federal agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as well as vaccine safety experts who independently review the data, make recommendations and provide guidance.
“The CDC will evaluate the situation as more information becomes available and provide timely updates on what is known and on necessary actions,” the statement said.
Both Pfizer and the CDC said their thoughts were with the family.
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