Fact check: Nurse who fainted after COVID-19 vaccine has an underlying health condition
The Claim: A nurse passed out after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine
This week, the frontline health workers became the first recipients of the coronavirus vaccine in the United States. Some got the recording on television and spoke to reporters about their experience, emphasizing the need and safety of the vaccine.
Video clips of a nurse who passed out about 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine have quickly spread online, some accompanied by claims that the response is evidence that the vaccine is unsafe.
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"I'm sorry, I'm really dizzy," said the nurse while speaking to the press. She trips and falls into the arms of a nearby doctor. The nurse would later explain that her reaction had nothing to do with the vaccine itself.
Erin Marie Olszewski posted a clip from WRCB Channel 3 Eyewitness News on Facebook.
"Watch this nurse pass out after receiving the COVID vaccine. It's that safe, isn't it?" Olszewski wrote. "Why do people keep following these rabid dictators?"
Olszewski told USA TODAY that it is impossible to know if the vaccine fainted the nurse because "correlation does not imply causation".
"How can you say without a doubt that the vaccine didn't cause this?" She wrote.
Tina Justine posted a similar clip of the nurse from WTVC-TV NewsChannel 9.
"WTF !!! Nurse gets COVID-19 vaccine, tell the media how great it is, and then go over !!" She wrote.
Justine did not respond to requests from the US for comments TODAY.
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Cathy Pitts, R.N., prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital West in Nashville, Tennessee, Thursday, December 17, 2020.
The nurse fainted from an underlying health condition after being shot
It's true that Tiffany Dover - a nurse manager at Memorial Hospital for Catholic Health Initiatives in Chattanooga, Tennessee - passed out shortly after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine Thursday.
The moment was captured on camera by local news outlets WRCB Channel 3 Eyewitness News and WTVC-TV NewsChannel 9.
However, the incident did not indicate any safety concerns about the vaccine.
Dover stated that she has an underlying health condition that causes her to faint when in pain.
"I've had an episode of syncope. I've had an overactive vagus reaction in the past. So when I'm in pain - hang nail or toe-stick - I can just pass out," Dover told WRCB.
In another clip, she said she "passed out probably six times in the past six weeks."
"It's common for me," she added.
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What is a vagal reaction?
The vagus response is an automatic response that occurs when the vagus nerve is stimulated by triggers such as stress, anxiety, and pain. According to Very Well Health, you may experience nausea, dizziness, and fainting.
Dr. Jesse Tucker, director of intensive care medicine at CHI Memorial Hospital Chattanooga, told WCTV that this wasn't an unusual reaction after vaccination.
"It's a reaction that can be very common with any vaccine, with a shot of any kind," he said. "No reason to believe that this was due to the vaccine."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fainting may occur after many types of vaccinations. Most of the reports refer to three recordings with different ingredients: HPV, MCV4 and Tdap. This led the scientists to conclude that the fainting might be due to the temporary pain of the vaccination rather than the shot itself.
Numerous other employees of the CHI Memorial also received the COVID-19 shot without incident. Shortly after she was vaccinated, Dover told WTVC that she was feeling better.
"It hit me all of a sudden, I could feel it open," said Dover. "I felt a little disoriented, but now I'm fine and the pain in my arm is very minimal."
There is no reason to believe that the shot Dover received is unsafe.
The vaccine, manufactured by Pfizer and BioNTech, received emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration on December 11th. A study of over 44,000 people found that the shot is extremely safe and 95% effective, according to USA TODAY.
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Our assessment: Lack of context
Based on our research, the claim that a nurse passed out as a result of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is out of context. Nurse Tiffany Dover told reporters that she has an underlying health condition that causes her to pass out easily, even after she is in pain. One doctor also said the reaction is "common" with all vaccines. And there is no reason to believe that the COVID-19 vaccine is unsafe.
Our fact-checking sources:
USA TODAY, December 14th, A "Magical" Moment: First COVID-19 vaccinations raise hopes on a historic day marked by yet another dire milestone
WRCB Channel 3 Eyewitness News, Dec. 17, First doses of COVID-19 vaccines given at Chattanooga Hospital on Thursday
WTVC-TV NewsChannel 9, Dec. 17, The first COVID-19 vaccinations among health care workers in Hamilton County began Thursday
WRCB Chattanooga, December 18, intensive care nurse at the CHI Memorial, declares her faint after the COVID-19 vaccine
Very good health, January 21st, What triggers the vagal reaction?
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fainting After Vaccination
US TODAY, December 11th, "A Historic Event for Humanity": US reaches turning point in fight against COVID-19 when FDA approves Pfizer vaccine
This article originally appeared in the US TODAY: Fact Check: The state of health, not the COVID-19 vaccine, made the nurse passed out
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