Danice Hertz, a 64-year-old physician who was “horribly ill” and “incapacitated” after getting Pfizer’s COVID vaccine, claims U.S. health agencies are ignoring thousands of adverse events.
In an exclusive interview with The Defender, Hertz said if she could go back in time, she would not have gotten vaccinated.
Hertz said she has been in contact with numerous health agencies, physicians and researchers — including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Surgeon General and doctors at Harvard and Stanford universities and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles — in an effort to obtain help for the neurological injuries she suffered after getting the vaccine.
Hertz told The Defender there are thousands of people like her — who have been injured by COVID vaccines — who are suffering and need help, yet they’re ignored by mainstream media and U.S. health agencies. Meanwhile, COVID vaccine mandates are being rolled out for millions of Americans, with barely any discussion of the risks.
Hertz, a gastroenterologist who retired in October, got her first and only dose of Pfizer’s vaccine on Dec. 23, 2020. “There was an opportunity to get the vaccine because the hospital was giving it to every doctor,” Hertz said. “I didn’t know if I would need to go back into the workforce, so I ran to get it. Within 30 minutes, I started experiencing adverse effects.”
“I waited the 15 minutes you’re required to wait after you get it, and I went to the car and my face started burning,” Hertz said. “I drove home five minutes away, and by the time I walked through the door, I told my husband to call the paramedics.”
Hertz said within 24 hours she developed neurological symptoms, including severe paresthesias in her face, tongue, scalp, chest wall and limbs, as well as tremors, twitching, weakness, headaches, tinnitus and imbalance.
“My blood pressure was 186 over 127, which I’ve come to find is characteristic of these reactions,” Hertz said.
Hertz called her doctor, and took Benadryl and steroids in case she was having an allergic reaction. The next day her face turned completely numb.
“My entire face felt like it was burning — like acid had been poured on my face. I had sensations throughout my body like it was vibrating. I felt like I had a tight band around my waist, chest pain and shortness of breath, and I went to bed for seven days.”
Hertz followed up with an allergist who treated her with steroids in case she was experiencing an allergic reaction to the vaccine. After a few weeks of no improvement, Hertz met with the chief neurologist at Cedars-Sinai.
“I saw six neurologists, five allergists, three rheumatologists, and no one had a clue,” Hertz said. “They did blood work, skin biopsies, an MRI and more, and nothing really came up. Unfortunately, if a doctor doesn’t know what’s wrong with you they’re done with you, though that’s not how I practice.”
Early on, when Hertz was evaluated by the first neurologist, the neurologist asked her about a “CISA consult” with the CDC.
According to the CDC’s website, the Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment (CISA) Project was established in 2001 to address the unmet vaccine safety clinical research needs of the U.S.
CISA is a national network of vaccine safety experts from the CDC’s Immunization Safety Office and seven medical research centers, plus other partners who address vaccine safety issues, conduct high-quality clinical research and assess complex clinical adverse events following vaccination.
The CISA Project also provides consultation to U.S. clinicians who have vaccine safety questions about a specific patient residing in the U.S. It also provides consultation to U.S. healthcare providers and public health partners on vaccine safety issues, and reviews clinical adverse events following immunization involving U.S.-licensed vaccines.
Hertz’s case was accepted into the CISA Project and was presented at the CDC’s grand rounds on March 23. Following the meeting, a physician forwarded a letter to Hertz suggesting she had “mast cell disorder.”
The CISA Project never followed up with her.
Mast cell activation syndrome (or mast cell disorder) is a condition in which a patient experiences repeated episodes of the symptoms of anaphylaxis — allergic symptoms such as hives, swelling, low blood pressure, difficulty breathing and severe diarrhea.
Systemic mastocytosis can cause skin lesions, pain in inner organs, bone pain, diarrhea and vomiting, weight loss and cardiovascular symptoms.
Hertz contacted the NIH and was evaluated remotely by Dr. Avindra Nath, a physician-scientist who specializes in neuroimmunology and is intramural clinical director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the NIH.
Hertz said she sent the NIH her blood for a study, because they were seeing quite a few patients like her. She also sent her blood to doctors at Stanford and Harvard for evaluation.
The Harvard physician also thought Hertz had mast cell activation, and put her on medications, but they didn’t help. “I’m now on a lot of medications for mast cell activation, but I’m still quite ill,” Hertz said.
“I don’t think that’s [mast cell activation] the whole explanation of what’s happening to us,” Hertz said. “I’m still here nine months later. I still don’t know what’s wrong with me. I am not as sick as I was initially, but I still get attacks where I feel like I’m being electrocuted, and my husband can actually feel my legs and arms vibrating.”
Hertz started a Facebook group that now has more than 160 people who have experienced neurological problems after a COVID vaccine, and can’t find help with their conditions.
“We have 160 people in this private Facebook group and we all know each other very well and are trying to help each other,” Hertz said. “Together we’ve been trying very very hard to get help.”
“Although my group consists of 160 members who had legitimate adverse reactions to COVID vaccines, there are other groups I’m aware of that have thousands,” she added.
Hertz said the mainstream media does not want to talk to anyone in her group who’s been injured because they’re not allowed to publish about vaccine injuries. “There are a lot of people who have had neurological reactions and a lot of people don’t know it’s vaccine-related,” she said.
Hertz and her group managed to get a Zoom meeting with Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) at the FDA, to discuss their vaccine injuries, but were disappointed when he did not show up for the meeting.
“We had a very important Zoom meeting with Marks set up. I think it was the day they announced Pfizer’s vaccine was given full FDA approval. We [the group] didn’t know in advance it was going to be approved.
“We all prepared speeches to plead with Marks for help and he didn’t show up. The head of the communications showed up — not a science person. She listened to us. Her response after listening to us for a full hour was, ‘well if you could give me your VAERS [Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System] number, I’ll have everyone look into your VAERS cases and we will see what we can do to help you.’”
Hertz said the FDA representative completely missed the point. “We were here to represent a large number of people who’ve been injured and need medical care, yet we got no response”.
U.S. agencies are aware of vaccine injuries
Hertz said there are different theories for adverse reactions like hers, but she doesn’t think any have been proven or that enough research has been done.
“Some people think it’s an immune-mediated neuropathy where nerves are attacked by antibodies triggered by the vaccine,” Hertz said. “A doctor in California claims he found a spike protein produced by the vaccine in our monocytes — as he is doing research on members in the group.”
Hertz said several members of her private Facebook group went to the NIH for treatment, especially those who were paralyzed after getting the vaccine and can’t use their legs.
“The NIH is aware of what is happening but publicly has been dismissive of vaccine adverse reactions,” Hertz said.
“Early on when I was so sick in early January, I tried to figure out whom I should contact — and I did contact another gentleman at the NIH who is very high up in the NIAID [National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases],” Hertz said. “He told me they are ‘very aware’ of these reactions and are looking into them.”
“They knew about these adverse reactions before the vaccines were released from the clinical trials,” Hertz said.
In a Feb. 11 email exchange (see below) between Hertz and the NIH and NIAID (the agency led by Dr. Anthony Fauci) just two months after COVID vaccines received Emergency Use Authorization, an official acknowledged other reactions like the ones Hertz experienced had been reported and agencies were aware of them.
Hertz said she believes the NIH conveys a different position behind the scenes than the one the agency presents to the public. She said she believes it’s because the NIH is funded by the FDA.
Hertz has had several communication exchanges with Marks and Dr. Janet Woodcock, FDA acting commissioner. Neither Marks, nor Woodcock took Hertz’ concerns seriously, but instead, wished her the best with her debilitating vaccine injuries.
Hertz said Woodcock initially said she would like to help, but then responded again saying:
“I am so very sorry for your ordeal. It seems what is missing is what they call a ‘research definition,’ in other words a syndromic framework to describe what is being experienced, since it may not fit into current diagnostic categories. Possibly one of the academic researchers you have consulted could work on that. I don’t have insight into how this could be approached from a treatment standpoint.”
In other words, they are not interested in hearing about these reactions, Hertz said in an email to the NIH where she described the FDA’s response.
“It is shocking to me that they completely blow off these reports of hundreds and thousands suffering with severe reactions. I would think they would want to know as much as possible about these reactions. Something is very wrong and these adverse reactions to the vaccines are being covered up. It is a great disservice to so many who are suffering like me.”
On Feb. 1, Hertz reached out to her team of physicians, the CDC and Marks regarding her experience and those of five other women who developed neurological problems after Pfizer’s vaccine. Hertz asked why their neurological reactions were being ignored.
“As most of you know me, I am a 64-year-old gastroenterologist who suﬀered a terrible reaction 30 minutes after receiving the ﬁrst dose of the Pﬁzer Covid vaccine. I am still very symptomatic almost 9 weeks out with severe paresthesias, chest tightness, tremor, dizziness, headaches. I am on the internet seeking information and came across an article in a journal Neurology Today. I wrote a comment after the article about my reaction. I have subsequently been contacted by ﬁve other women who have had very similar neurological reactions to mine and are all quite ill weeks after receiving their vaccines.
“They have had similar diﬃculty in getting appropriate medical care as the medical community knows nothing about these reactions. They, too, have reported their reactions to the drug companies, the regulatory governmental agencies, and there has been no response or documentation of their reactions.
“It is apparent that these neurological reactions are not unheard of. Why are they not being addressed? Why are our reports being ignored? We do not have any desire to frighten the public about the vaccine, but we all very much would like to get medical care and fear that we will not recover from these debilitating symptoms. We were all previously healthy. We are considering going to the media as we are terribly frustrated at the lack of transparency. Any advice from you would be greatly appreciated.”
Marks responded that he was “so sorry” to hear of her symptoms, that the FDA takes adverse events seriously and said he asked the pharmacovigilance team to follow up with her. To date, neither Marks, nor the pharmacovigilance team have followed up.
On March 17, an official at the NIH emailed Hertz — and copied Pfizer — acknowledging more than 1,000 neurological side effects reported to VAERS, and promising to present them to the scientific community, which to date, has not been done.
The official said:
“If you look at VAERS database there are more than 1,000 neurological side eﬀects already reported but in order to present it to scientiﬁc community we have to gather as much information as we can before sending it out. I promise you we will report your issue and other cases that we are reviewing now and I really [would] appreciate if you kindly give us 1-2 weeks to collect comprehensive information before publicizing it.”
“Why is this being kept a secret? When will the public be made aware so we can get treatment? Will we recover? You have no idea the pain and suffering that many people have been going through. I wish you could experience what we are experiencing to understand my pleas. It is very difficult to live this way. At times, I am in so much pain that I don’t want to live. It is so shocking to me that this suppression of information and the truth can occur in our country. As a physician, I never imagined this could occur here in the United States, with our great medical system and regulatory agencies.
“Please bring these reactions public so medical care will be available to the many like me who are suffering agonizing symptoms resulting from these vaccines. Eventually, the truth will be told. We need help now.”
Hertz said she received a response from Woodcock, who said the FDA is “looking into these neurological reactions.” But there has been no follow-through or acknowledgement of her injuries — or the injuries thousands of others are experiencing.
Hertz, who is pro-vaccine, said she is concerned the FDA, NIH, CDC and pharmaceutical companies are ignoring vaccine injuries.
“We want the medical community to be educated about these reactions so they don’t dismiss us, so that they can validate what has happened and treat us. We need research done to discover what happened and to create treatments. And now there are vaccine mandates and people like us cannot get vaccinated again. There are many in my group who are physicians and cannot go back to work until they’re fully vaccinated but they can’t go back to work and it’s not easy to get an exemption. We need to look at that.”
On May 24, Hertz and 79 other individuals who were injured by Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca (U.S. clinical trial) vaccines wrote a letter to the Dr. Vivek Murthy, U.S. Surgeon General and the White House pleading with them to validate their reactions so they could be addressed properly.
The group stated:
“We have all shared very similar adverse reactions to these vaccines. We were previously healthy individuals. Our reactions occurred within minutes to a few short days after receiving the vaccines. There is no doubt that the vaccines caused our reactions.
“Our reactions have included nausea, weight loss, heartburn, diarrhea/constipation, sleep disturbances, chest pains, headaches, facial and sinus pressure, dizziness, severe weakness and fatigue, painful paresthesias throughout the body, severe painful paresthesias focused on the face, tongue and scalp, internal vibrations and tremors, muscle twitching and muscle spasms, brain fog and mental status changes, memory loss, tinnitus, impaired/blurred vision, elevated blood pressure and heart rate, bulging veins, heart issues and weakness. Several in our group have experienced paralysis of the lower extremities and to this day remain paralyzed. Many of us have been ill for five months.”
Nobody in the group had any of the above symptoms prior to getting a COVID vaccine.
“They [the injuries] are leaving the majority of us disabled and unable to return to our jobs as medical and other healthcare professionals, parents, teachers, scientists, etc.,” the group wrote.
“Not only have we been impacted physically, but mentally and ﬁnancially as well. Most of us are unable to work, or are on a reduced work schedule. This is continuing for us without any end in sight.”
“WE NEED HELP,” the group wrote. “The constant messaging that the vaccines are safe and with zero acknowledgement of these adverse neurological reactions has made it impossible for us to obtain medical treatment. We are ‘collateral damage’ in the effort to stop the pandemic.”
The group told Murthy that until adverse reactions are acknowledged, it will be impossible to receive care. “We are pleading that you make the medical community aware of these reactions so we can get the medical care we need,” the group wrote.
U.S. health agencies don’t want people to know about vaccine injuries
When asked by The Defender why the U.S. health agencies would cover up vaccine adverse events, suppress research and fail to provide those injured with adequate treatments, Hertz responded:
“The pandemic is horrible. It’s a real problem. But they made calculated decisions on how to protect the most people, and I don’t know who made these decisions but they’ve decided vaccinating as many people as possible will save more people than attending to the vaccine injuries. I think they do not want to create fear or panic and to publicize the fact there are injuries.”
Hertz said she believes what’s happening with COVID vaccines is a crime against our country.
“If there is anything I could do, I would go back in time and take that shot out of me,” Hertz said. “I took every single vaccine that ever came out, and I had never had a reaction to anything. I went in that day without any concern because it had been cleared by the FDA. I feel like an idiot.”
Hertz said she submitted several reports to VAERS, but the CDC never followed up. She received a call from one clerical person just confirming the report and she told them, “I am a physician. I am severely ill. I’m fearful of my life. I did report to Pfizer in written and verbal form, and nobody has ever called me back.”
Hertz reached out to Dr. Marks again on Feb. 23 after not receiving a follow-up as promised, and another official with CBER responded. The official referred her to VAERS, and told her how to request information about her adverse event and how to obtain a copy of the report. He also suggested she request a CISA consult from the CDC, which she had already done.
“Thank you for your recommendation to contact VAERS. Unfortunately this is not helpful as it has already been done. Hopefully, you will become aware of the injuries some people are experiencing from the vaccines and educate the medical community so that medical care will be available for people like me.”
The official asked whether she had filled out her report correctly and that he was under the impression VAERS will contact her if “follow-up information is needed.”
Hertz said she provided contact information on the VAERS report she filed and was “fully aware of the many hundreds of reports with similar reactions in the VAERS database,” as were the people in her group with similar severe reactions. “We and our physicians have requested CDC CISA consults which have been completely unhelpful,” Hertz said.
“I would think the FDA and CDC would want to know about these reactions. We have all been seriously ill. It is truly shocking that our reports have not been taken seriously and that the FDA is not asking for follow up from us. There is apparently no concern about people being injured by the vaccines.
“The suggestions you make in both of your emails to me are nonsensical. I am a physician, not a moron. You skirt the issue that there are many of us that have been injured by the vaccines and are being ignored. Your emails are insulting and demeaning. You are completely missing my point. I guess that is just representative of how seriously you are taking the fact that there are many people being severely injured by the Covid vaccines and are struggling to get validation and medical care because these reactions are being hidden from the medical community.
“This is truly shocking. Having practiced medicine for 33 years, I always had faith in our regulatory agencies. Now, having been seriously injured by this vaccine and struggling to be taken seriously and get medical assistance, I no longer have faith.”
On July 2, Hertz reached out to one of her contacts at the NIH again asking if there was anyone studying adverse reactions like hers, and the group she represents. She wrote, “We have been abandoned by the government, and the medical community knows nothing about these adverse reactions. We desperately need medical help.”
There was no response.
Hertz said that as a physician, she is pro-vaccine but she is also “pro-informed consent,” and she has always given that to her patients.
“Whatever I did to them, if it was a procedure like a colonoscopy or prescribing a medication, I always provided them with the risks involved,” Hertz said. “There has been no informed consent with the [COVID] vaccine, and if I would have known I never would have gotten it.”
Hertz said the public needs to be given accurate and complete information about the risks and the ability to make a choice. “To make that choice for them is wrong,” she said.
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