A 42-year-old woman working as an accredited social health activist (Asha) in Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur district died of a brain stem stroke on Sunday, four days after she received a Covid-19 vaccine, but a senior official said it wasn’t possible to establish a link between the jab and the stroke.
The authorities at Guntur General Hospital (GGH) said Bokka Vijaya Lakshmi of Penumaka village, who was admitted to hospital with complaints of severe headache, giddiness, seizures and vomiting on Friday evening, died early on Sunday. Vijayalakshmi took the Covishield vaccine shot along with 10 others on January 20.
“She was absolutely fine on the day of vaccination and even the next day. According to her family members, she developed mild symptoms on the midnight of January 21; when her condition turned serious the following day, she was brought to Guntur General Hospital,” Guntur district immunisation officer Dr Chukka Ratna Manmohan said.
GGH superintendent Dr G Prabhavati said the hospital authorities had carried out all investigations after she was brought to the hospital.
Dr Manmohan said investigations revealed that Vijayalakshmi developed a blood clot in the brain that led to the stroke.
“We do not know exactly whether she already had the blood clot in her brain before vaccination or whether it was induced by vaccination. We are hoping to find some reason after conducting the autopsy,” he said.
The immunisation officer said there was no way it could be established that it was a vaccine-induced death. “First of all, Covid-19 itself is one-year old in the country. And the vaccination for Covid-19 is still in its nascent stage. We have not come across any such incidents of brain stroke due to vaccination in any part of the country so far,”Dr Manmohan said.
District medical and health officer (DMHO) Dr Jonnalagadda Yasmin, in a statement, said out of 11 persons including a medical officer who got vaccinated at the Tadepalli primary health centre on January 20, only Vijayalakshmi and an auxiliary nurse midwife Gottimukkala Lakshmi, 38, showed symptoms of giddiness and seizures in the next two days.
“They were shifted to GGH by the AEFI committee. While Vijayalakshmi’s condition turned critical due to brain stroke, the other woman is stable and recovering,” she said.
Vijayalakshmi’s husband Sambasiva Rao, a village revenue assistant at Penumaka, said she had no other health complications. “She developed symptoms only after receiving the vaccination,” he said. Rao, along with other family members, hundreds of activists of CPI (M), staged a sit-in at the GGH, demanding a compensation of ₹50 lakh and a government job to one of her two sons and a plot of land to build a house. Meanwhile, a 45-year-old Anganwadi worker died in Telangana’s Warangal district on Sunday, five days after she was vaccinated.