GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – The family of a wife and mother in the Ionia area say she died of complications after receiving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
Anne VanGeest, 35, died April 19 at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s in Grand Rapids.
“It is with deep sadness that we share the news of Anne’s passing away due to complications after receiving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine,” her family said in a statement released Thursday morning through a Grand Rapids public relations firm.
The statement from a representative of VanGeest’s family stopped short to say that she died of the J&J vaccine and instead said that she died “due to complications after (emphasis added) receipt of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-1
The statement went on to describe VanGeest as a “loving mother, wife, sister and daughter.”
“An active member of the animal rescue community, Annie will be remembered as a tough lawyer, a master multitasker and a caring friend by her colleagues, colleagues, volunteers and family,” the statement read.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed to VanGeest’s family that her death was reported through Vaccine Reporting System (VAERS), a vaccine safety system controlled by the CDC and the FDA.
“We received a VAERS report on (Anne’s) case. It was filed by her healthcare provider, ”wrote a member of the CDC Immunization Safety Office in an email exchange with one of VanGeest’s relatives.
VAERS accepts reports of possible side effects (also called ‘side effects’) after vaccination. The system is not designed to determine if a reported side effect was caused by the vaccine, but acts as an early warning system and helps the CDC and FDA identify areas for further investigation. When VAERS receives reports of serious illness or death after vaccination, VAERS staff contact the hospital where the patient was treated to obtain the associated medical records to better understand that side effect. They do not routinely contact the family. ”
Neither the FDA nor the CDC would confirm to News 8 that they are investigating Van Geest’s death.
Her family says she received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on April 8. She later developed a persistent headache, which is one of the symptoms reported in women under the age of 50 who had a rare complication of the J&J vaccine.
On April 13, the CDC ordered a halt in the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine following six reports of a “rare and severe type of blood clot,” called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis or CVST.
Federal health officials have registered 15 complaints about recipients of J&J vaccine – mostly women under the age of 50 – who developed dangerous blood clots. Three dead. But with more than 8 million doses administered, federal health officials decided last week that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks and lifted an 11-day break with the administration of the shot. Younger women who are worried about the J&J shot may look for options to get Pfizer or Moderna instead.
Anne VanGeest’s death certificate shows the mode of death as “natural” and the cause as “acute subarachnoid hemorrhage non-traumatic”, described as “bleeding in the area between the brain and the thin tissue that covers it.”
University of Michigan Dr. Geoff Barnes, who was not involved in VanGeest’s care and has no knowledge of the circumstances surrounding her death, told News 8 that a “subarachnoid hemorrhage” may occur as a result of the J&J complication.
Barnes explained what federal investigators found in the rare blood clots associated with the J&J vaccine.
“(The patients) developed a blood clot in one of the veins that drained out of the brain, but in addition they also turned out to have really low platelet counts,” he told News 8. “(Low platelets) is one of the elements in blood that helps it clot. And so these patients were at risk of both bleeding and coagulation. ”
Barnes said patients developed the coagulation complication between four and 28 days after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
According to the CDC, symptoms of the potentially fatal complication may include:
- Severe or persistent headache or blurred vision
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Leg swelling
- Persistent abdominal pain
- Slight bruising or small blood spots under the skin outside the injection site
“It is very important that healthcare providers are aware that this condition exists, even though it is very rare. Because we need to know how to step in and diagnose it and how to treat it properly, ”said Dr. Barnes noted that the CDC and the FDA have developed specific steps to guide healthcare providers in the diagnosis and treatment of such cases.
Metro Health – University of Michigan announced Monday that it is does not administer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to women under 50 years of age “As an extra precaution.”
Barnes noted that the one-dose J&J vaccine is particularly useful for people who do not have clear access to health care and may not be able to return to another dose.
News 8 asked Barnes if he would recommend the J&J vaccine to women under 50 years of age.
“If I had a family member, a younger family member, who was a woman who told me she was really worried about having to go and get two shots, but was willing to get a shot, I would definitely encourage her to go and get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. I think the risk here is extremely small, “he replied. “The risks associated with getting COVID-19 and the many different things it can do for our body are much higher. That’s the thing I’m much more worried about, so I’ll definitely support a family member who told me they wanted to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because of convenience or access. I will definitely support them in doing so. ”
While VanGeest lived in Easton Township, Ionia County, her death certificate was filed in Kent County because she died at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s in Grand Rapids.
ONE GoFundMe account to help cover funeral expenses and support VanGeest’s family says she left four children. It reminded her of being an animal lover. It says she worked at C-Snip, which provides pet spaying and neutering, and volunteered with Carol’s Ferals.
The statement from VanGeest’s family asked for privacy as they mourn the death of wife and mother and celebrate her life.
It suggested that donations be made to memorials in Annie’s name C-Snip and LuvnPupz from Grand Rapids.