Once the Covid-19 vaccines were authorized for emergency use nearly year and a half ago, people were literally waiting in lines for hours to get their shot and get protected against the deadly virus. Since then, more than 255 million Americans are partially vaccinated against Covid-19, 76.8% of the population, making America one of the countries with the best Covid-19 vaccination rates so far.
Pfizer and Moderna’s two-dose Covid-19 vaccines were the first two vaccines to be authorized for emergency use. Months later, Johnson & Johnson announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for its single-dose COVID-19 vaccine. That was the moment when Americans had the chance for the first time to choose between two-dose and single-dose Covid-19 vaccines.
The 52-year-old M. Melkonian was among those who found it more convenient to get the single-dose J&J vaccine thinking that she will develop immunity against the virus more quickly compared to the two-dose vaccines. She was super happy when her primary vaccine choice was available at a local vaccine clinic in Oregon on April 7th last year. Melkonian finally got vaccinated with the vaccine she wanted to.
In the next couple of days, Melkonian was feeling well and she didn’t develop any symptoms from the vaccine. On April 13th, the federal health officials said they are pausing the J&J vaccine due to several reports of rare blood-clotting disorder in people who got vaccinated with J&J vaccine. The same day Melkonian experienced the very symptoms of the vaccine, headache, a sharp pain behind her left eye.
Even before the first vaccines were rolled out, Melkonian and her husband talked about getting vaccinated against Covid-19. While Melkonian was waiting for the single-dose vaccine, her husband already got vaccinated with the available vaccines. At that point, the couple recognized that all three were safe and effective, and that the possibility of a bad side effect was minimal.
“You definitely hit the jackpot,” Melkonian’s husband Thomas recalled telling her after she got her shot. “You should go buy a lottery ticket, because today’s your lucky day.” It turned out Melkonian made the worst decision in her life when she chose the J&J vaccine.
Few days after her first symptoms, Thomas found his wife crying out on the floor. She experienced seizure and was unable to move her right arm. Thomas immediately though about the vaccine as he suspected a possible stroke. “No! This isn’t happening to me,” Melkonian cried out as Thomas spoke with the 911 operator.
While the couple was waiting for the ambulance to arrive, Melkonian could no longer speak or move. As Thomas explains, the progression of whatever that was, was lightning -fast. She was transferred to hospital for treatment where she was answering question by squeezing Thomas’ hand. By the time additional tests were made, she could no longer respond in any way.
In a matter of days, Melkonian was already dead. The 52-year-old woman is one of only nine people in the U.S. known to have died from vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia, a rare side effect of the J&J vaccine, and a victim of tragic timing. Thomas believes his wife would be alive today had the information about potential side effects been shared even a few days earlier.
Thomas decided to share the story with the public earlier this month to raise awareness. Even though he lost his wife due to vaccine complications, Thomas remains pro-vaccine oriented and encourages everyone to get vaccinated against Covid-19.