Paralyzed after getting COVID-19 vaccine, Pittsburgh area woman shares recovery story

BETHEL PARK, Pa. — It’s been almost three weeks since 33-year-old Rachael Cecere got the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. She said 12 hours later, she was paralyzed from the neck down.

Channel 11 sat down with Cecere exclusively in her Bethel Park home.

“Every day that I work hard, I get closer to being whole, I hope,” Cecere explained.

She said she feels that her strength is back in her upper body except for her left hand, making it hard to pick her 3-year-old up daughter, Bristol.

“When I try to pick my daughter up to put her on my lap my left hand just doesn’t feel the strength to get her,” Cecere explained.

Cecere is a single mother and Bristol has been her motivation through it all. Right now, Cecere is doing occupational and physical therapy at Jefferson Hospital yet still has no feeling in either leg and can only move the left one. This is why doctors gave her a prosthetic brace and knee support to keep her leg straight.

“It’s discouraging not having the feeling or sensation in my legs it’s just difficult for me to grasp and understand like when is this going to get better,” Cecere stated.

She was previously at the Cleveland Clinic looking for answers as to what happened.

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“I was told multiple times that the diagnosis was an acute distress to the nervous system brought on the COVID-19 vaccine Pfizer,” Cecere explained.

However, she showed Channel 11 her discharge papers and nothing in her diagnosis mentions the COVID-19 vaccine. We spoke with a local infectious disease doctor who said the diagnosis is very vague.

“It doesn’t sound like they are willing to attribute it to the vaccine or any specific medical diagnosis,” Dr. Dave Weber said.

Channel 11 reached back out to Pfizer and received the following additional statement:

“We take adverse events that are potentially associated with our COVID-19 vaccine, BNT162b2, very seriously. We closely monitor all such events and collect relevant information to share with global regulatory authorities. At this time, our ongoing review has not identified any safety signals with paralysis and the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. To date, more than 200 million people around the world have been vaccinated with our vaccine. It is important to note that serious adverse events that are unrelated to the vaccine are unfortunately likely to occur at a similar rate as they would in the general population.”