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Cheerleader Can't Walk after Getting Flu Shot

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KTLA News: ASHBURN, Va. -- A 26-year-old cheerleader in Virginia claims she came down with a rare neurological disorder just days after receiving a flu shot.

Desiree Jennings, a Washington Redskins ambassador, says her problems began ten days after receiving the seasonal flu shot at a grocery store. She claims she fell ill with flu-like symptoms and then experienced convulsions and blackouts.

"Inside Edition" showed video of Jennings, an avid runner, struggling to walk forward and speak properly. When attempting to walk forward, Jennings appeared to jerk around and have difficulty moving. However, she could walk backwards and run without any problems. Also, while running, Jennings could speak clearly.

Jennings says after seeing dozens of doctors, she was diagnosed with Dystonia -- a rare and debilitating neurological disorder that affects muscular control. The condition, with no known cure, is usually caused by head trauma, drug use, and poisoning.

According to Jennings, medical hospitals ruled out everything after all her tests came back normal. The only explanation, she says, is that the shot caused her condition.

The FDA reportedly found nothing wrong with the batch of influenza vaccine given to Jennings.

Prior to getting the shot in August, Jennings was training for a half marathon. She says she received the flu shot in 2007 and 2008 without any problems. Her case is apparently a one-in-a-million occurrence.

Copyright © 2009, KTLA-TV, Los Angeles

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21 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jenny October 27, 2009, 1:08 PM

so tired of this site twisting things. When they wrote about the boy being burned the headline said it was over a video game dispute, I watched the video and games had nothing to do with it, it was over a him telling on his friends for stealing a bike.

Now this says in the video caption that this happened to this girl from the swine flu vaccine when the video clearly states it was a seasonal flu vaccine.

Stop trying to create controversy, if you are going to write then why don’t you stick to the facts.

Rachel October 27, 2009, 3:12 PM

I agree with Jenny. Why not write about all the people that are not going to die due to the flu? So one sided around here!

Kristen October 27, 2009, 4:11 PM

Wow, this is amazing. Why do all of the mothers of autistic children get lambasted for coming out and saying vaccines are causing some kind of nueurological damage. Look at what a vaccine did to this women, why couldn’t it be plausible that vaccines are triggering some kind of neurological response in certain people.

Anonymous October 27, 2009, 10:33 PM

I’m not buying it. FAKE!

Dana October 28, 2009, 6:59 AM

This is terrible journalism - no evidence is supplied for this being flu related except for this woman’s opinion. What has happened to her is tragic, however this article is only fueling hysteria and misinformation.

Robin October 29, 2009, 11:09 AM

In defense, Momlogic didn’t make or labeled the Youtube video and the article (written by KTLA news) does not say it was a swine flu vaccine. There is a chance that this woman was indeed hurt by a vaccine and I don’t see it as “fueling hysteria” since the video clearly stated how extremely rare this condition is.

Brad October 30, 2009, 9:51 AM

There is no scientific method to attribute this condition to a vaccine. I’m sure if someone wins the lottery within 10 days of getting a shot the media won’t make post the headline: ‘Man wins Millions after getting flu shot!’. Things like this rare disorder happen to people every day..regardless if they get a shot or not. It seems our current society has to place blame on someone, or something for every negative event that happens..of course the blame is never placed on themselves.

Kasey November 9, 2009, 3:58 PM

I feel like this…i hate it happened to her, and i do believe it is real, but she had to have done something bad in her life in order for this to happen. She probably thought she was above the other cheerleaders and better than everyone else. Karma gets you all the time…..god has to take away the things that mean the most to you…for you to appreciate what you have

Anonymous November 12, 2009, 8:01 AM

Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS) is a known potential side effect of any vaccine. She wasn’t diagnosed with it but they have lots of characteristics that are the same. Knowing that this disorder is caused by poisonings, sure does put a scientific method of believing that a vaccine (which contain known carcinogens and other toxins) could be to blame.

Karla November 21, 2009, 1:11 PM

Karma? PLEASE! Accidents happen. Bad things happen to good people. Good things happen to bad people. Karma is a joke. We’re imperfect beings living in an imperfect, broken system. This is a terrible tragedy, but there’s no way the woman’s jealousy or pride led to her disease. If that were true, no babies would be born with mental retardation. What did they do, get envious in vitro???

alexis November 21, 2009, 2:21 PM

i cant believe this happend. i bursted into tears when i saw this woman. she was so beautiful. i mean she still is beautiful but she can only talk when she runs or walks backwards

Andrew November 24, 2009, 7:17 AM

This is definately a strange story. I don’t think anyone should take such extreme or alarmist views on this story as seem to be showing up here. It is possible that something in the vaccine triggered her dystopia. But since this is so rare, it’s probably not going to happen every day. Vacines can be harmful, if you look into it you’ll find that quite a few people have a variety of bad reactions, they just don’t make the news unless they are really strange. But vacines can be a good thing. They give kids and older people a much better chance of not getting sick, since it helps kick start your immune system and prepare it for flu season. Everyone makes their own decision. I won’t get any flu shot, but my daughter will. But please lets not bring any god, or Karma or anything into this. Things like this happen all the time, just maybe not to this extreme. If you want to get on about God you might as well give the girl the benefit of the doubt and say this is a gift, not that she deserves it for being bad, but because she must be strong enough to handle it or God wouldn’t have given this to her. She looks like a tough woman, with people who love her helping her out, she still has her running which she loves, and I’m sure, now,she’ll be able do more of what she loves than anything else. That sounds like a gift to me. I won’t feel pity for this young woman, I feel compassion and hope she does well work through her disability. Stop saying this is tragic, this is just life, and everyone’s is different, we all have our own challenges to work through.

Megan November 24, 2009, 7:25 AM

this is fake.

Zethell December 3, 2009, 4:12 AM

Megan is fake.

PhotoJoe December 12, 2009, 11:03 AM

Dystonia is a real condition. I have no doubt this woman is really suffering from it. What’s absurd is doctors claiming they know why she suffers from it.

Dystonia is a disorder with *NO KNOWN CAUSE*. If they claim that they *KNOW* that a vaccine caused the condition in this young lady then they need to present their evidence to researchers in this field who have, your years, been at a loss to explain why people are struck down by this disorder.

There are theories as to what causes it which range from brain pathology of a genetic nature(most straightforward explanation), brain damage (think trauma), or a secondary effect of diseases of the nervous system such as Wilson’s disease.

Before these are dismissed as causes in her case remember that the #1 cause of head-injuries in female athletes are cheer-leading accidents. Sure, she may not have struck her head yesterday, but as football and boxing fans know neurological insults suffered today can have profound and unexpected effects in the future.

For a lightweight light-on-the-science story on traumatic encephalopathy you can go to

Steven May 17, 2010, 4:47 PM

The connection between a flu shot and her condition is only timing…
So lets think about this statistically. She gets the seasonal flu shot every year. This means the chances that this could have occurred as a coincidence is 1 in 26 if you consider the timing of getting her condition to be about 2 weeks. So a 1 in 26 chance is considered impossible and dystonia must be caused by the shot…
Hmm fuzzy logic there. Yeah the vaccine almost certainly did not cause her dystonia sorry media.

Eureka June 2, 2010, 8:54 AM

I’ve been crippled with massive, horrific swelling from my first flu shot in 2004. I’ve got a horrid looking MRI of my left side to prove it. These vaccines can cripple.

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