Death of Florida doctor after receiving COVID-19 vaccine under investigation
KAREN WEINTRAUB | USA TODAY14 hours ago
A Florida doctor has died several weeks after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, although it’s not yet clear whether his death Monday was related to the shot he received on Dec. 18.
Dr. Gregory Michael, 56, an OB-GYN at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, died after suffering a hemorrhagic stroke apparently resulting from a lack of platelets.
Miami medical examiners are investigating his death,the Florida Department of Health said in a statement.
“The CDC and FDA are responsible for reviewing COVID-19 vaccine safety data and presenting that information for federal recommendations on vaccine administration,” communications director Jason Mahon said in an email. “The state will continue to provide all available information to the CDC as they lead this investigation.”
In a Facebook post, Michael’s wife, Heidi Neckelmann, said he sought emergency care three days after the shot because he had dots on his skin that indicated internal bleeding.
The condition she said led to his stroke, called thrombocytopenia, results from a lower-than-normal number of platelets, which help the blood clot.
In extremely rare cases, the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine has been linked to thrombocytopenia in young children, according to a 2003 study. The condition can also be caused by cancer, anemia, heavy drinking, viruses, some genetic conditions, toxic chemicals and medications such as diuretics and the rarely used antibiotic chloramphenicol.
Pfizer, which along with its partner BioNTech made the vaccine the man received, said in a statement it is aware of the death.
“We are actively investigating this case, but we don’t believe at this time that there is any direct connection to the vaccine,” the statement said.
There is no indication – either from large clinical trials or among people who have received the vaccine since the government authorized its use last month – that it could be connected to thrombocytopenia, the company said.
COVID-19 vaccine makers are required by the government to monitor health problems that occur close in time to vaccination and investigate whether they are likely to be connected to a shot.
“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,” according to the statement, which ended by saying: “Our immediate thoughts are with the bereaved family.”