Angela Marie Wulbrecht jumped at the first chance to get a COVID-19 vaccine, driving three hours from her home in Santa Rosa to a mass-vaccination site on Jan. 19. Twelve minutes after her Moderna shot, she stumbled into the paramedic tent with soaring blood pressure and a racing heartbeat.
Wulbrecht, 46, had been a nurse for 23 years before the fateful shot. She was healthy, ate a vegan diet and was an accomplished salsa dancer. Since January, she’s had to leave her job and has missed out on many activities with her husband and 12-year-old daughter, Gabriella. She has spent about $35,000 on out-of-pocket medical bills, despite having insurance.
“I wanted to get vaccinated as soon as I could to help fight the pandemic,” said Wulbrecht, who still supports the vaccination campaign. Her husband got his shots despite her reaction, and Gabriella was scheduled to get her first dose Wednesday. “But it would help those who are hesitant if they took care of those of us who got injured.”
The options are slim for people who suffer rare life-altering injuries after a COVID-19 shot. It's a problem whose significance is growing as states and the federal government increasingly ponder vaccine mandates.