The Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating the death of a doctor who died about two weeks after receiving a dosage of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
Dr. Gregory Michael developed a severe case of thrombocytopenia — a rare disorder that The New York Times reported can decrease the blood platelet count and reduce the body’s ability to clot blood and stop internal bleeding — 16 days after receiving the vaccine, according to The Associated Press.
The 56-year-old obstetrician, who had a private practice at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, died on Jan. 3.
Samples from the Florida physician’s autopsy conducted last week were sent to the CDC, according to the director of operations for the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner Department, Darren Caprara.
Caprara told the AP that the “cause of death is pending the completion of studies” by the medical examiner and the CDC.
“To date, millions of people have been vaccinated and we are closely monitoring all adverse events in individuals receiving our vaccine,” Pfizer said.
“It is important to note that serious adverse events, including deaths that are unrelated to the vaccine, are unfortunately likely to occur at a similar rate as they would in the general population.”
Pfizer added, “our immediate thoughts are with the bereaved family,” according to The Times.
The CDC said in a statement that it would also evaluate the case “and provide timely updates on what is known and any necessary actions,” the outlet reported.
Dr. Jerry L. Spivak, an expert on blood disorders at Johns Hopkins University, told The Times that he thinks “it is a medical certainty that the vaccine was related” to Michael’s condition, but it should not stop people from getting the vaccine.
Potential side effects of the vaccine are being tracked by the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration in a national electronic database.
According to the FDA, the most common side effects from Pfizer’s vaccine are pain at the injection site, headache, muscle pain, fatigue, chills and fever.
“Of note, more people experienced these side effects after the second dose than after the first dose, so it is important for vaccination providers and recipients to expect that there may be some side effects after either dose, but even more so after the second dose,” the FDA said.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was authorized for emergency use in the United States on Dec. 11.
According to The Times, serious side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine include 29 cases of anaphylaxis, however none were reported fatal.
As of Tuesday, approximately 9 million shots of Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccine have been administered across the country.
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