When Tiffany Yonts was fourteen years old, she received a vaccination for Tetanus and Diphtheria. As a result of the vaccine, she developed Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which is both extremely rare and not treatable.
Guillain-Barré Syndrome is a disorder where your immune system attacks your nerves. The first signs of it are weakness in your extremities that quickly spread and can paralyze your entire body. According to the Mayo Clinic:
The exact cause of Guillain-Barre syndrome is unknown. But it is often preceded by an infectious illness such as a respiratory infection or the stomach flu.
There’s no known cure for Guillain-Barre syndrome, but several treatments can ease symptoms and reduce the duration of the illness. Most people recover from Guillain-Barre syndrome, though some may experience lingering effects from it, such as weakness, numbness or fatigue.
Tiffany told Bored Panda that she was misdiagnosed for two years, and nearly died as a result of the disorder. As she explained:
I was in a powerful state of denial. Whenever I had an ounce of energy, I would use it to pretend that my life was still normal. I lost swimming, which was both my deepest passion and my job. I had only recently started working as a swim coach for young kids and I loved it with all of my heart. So, it definitely took me some time to accept that I’d basically lost my identity while also being completely in the dark when it came to what was actually happening with my body.
As I’ve said before, vaccine injuries do happen – nobody intelligent denies that fact. But they’re incredibly uncommon, despite what many anti-vaxxers would argue. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is a real thing. But according to their data, out of 3,454,269,356 vaccines that have been administered, only 4,172 people received financial compensation. That’s a rate of 0.00012%. To put that number in perspective, you have a much better chance of your house burning down this year – twice.
The fact is vaccines are generally safe, and those who aren’t vaccinated are four times more likely to be involved in the outbreak of a preventable disease than someone who is vaccinated.
Fourteen years later
Fourteen years have now passed, and despite her reaction to the vaccine, she took to Twitter to share her thoughts on vaccines and anti-vaxxers. While she didn’t call anti-vaxxers uneducated potatoes (my favorite insult of all time), I still think you’ll all appreciate her thread.
You can follow Tiffany on Twitter as @clemfairie.
Thank you to Tiffany for being brave enough to share her story publicly like this.