The fact that Desiree Jennings had a terrible reaction to the seasonal flu shot she received in August does not mean that everyone will have the same reaction. In reality, it may be a one in a million shot that the flu shot would cause a rare neurological disorder called dystonia. This is what Doctors at Fairfax Inova and Johns Hopkins diagnosed the NFL cheerleader with and they think it was caused by a severe reaction to the flu shot.
Dystonia is a neurological movement disorder in which sustained muscle contractions cause twisting and repetitive movements or abnormal postures. The disorder may be inherited or caused by other factors such as birth-related or other physical trauma, infection, poisoning or reaction to drugs.
Desiree Jennings, 26 was the picture of health prior to the flu shot she received on August 23. She is a Washington Redskins cheerleader and an avid runner. Ten days after receiving the flu shot, she came down with the flu. After that, her health got worse and she was hospitalized twice for seizures. Finally, she was diagnosed with dystonia and the doctors speculated that it was the flu shot that caused it.
Dystonia has been completely disabling for Desiree. She can’t walk forward, only backward. She can whisper but has difficulty speaking. Noises can cause convulsions. Her resting heart rate is 90. When she runs her blood pressure dips to 58. She gets exhausted walking a few steps but she could run for hours. Jennings now has difficulty speaking, walking, and even eating. She also experiences frequent seizures.
Desiree reported her health problems to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in case there was an issue with the vaccine. The FDA reported no problems with the vaccine she received and they have no other reports of adverse reactions from the lot.
NFL cheerleader Desiree Jennings, who had flu shots in 2007/2008 with no reaction, is aware that Dystonia is a rare reaction to the flu vaccine. Dystonia is an irreversible condition.
Although Desiree Jennings life is now completely changed, this reaction to the flu shot is very rare. Not getting a flu shot could have adverse affects as well, especially for those with chronic health problems.
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