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My Son Is Paralyzed from the Swine Flu Shot

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Arlene Connin's stepson Jordan McFarland developed Guillain-Barre syndrome after getting the swine flu vaccine. He's now in a wheelchair.

Jordan McFarland

Arlene Connin: I had been calling my pediatrician's office to see if they had the regular flu shot in, and they kept telling me they were out. I called every Friday, because that's when they got their shipment in. But the Friday before we left for a cruise to Bermuda, they told me they'd have the shots the following Thursday (November 5), which was the day we got back from our vacation. I felt so lucky, and I scheduled appointments for both of my boys to get them right away.

This was the fourth year I've gotten the flu shot for my sons. I've always thought it was an important thing to do.

Once we were in the office, the nurse told me that my kids were in the high-risk group since they have asthma, and they were eligible to get the swine flu vaccine also. So we got them.

My son Jordan, who's 14 and in ninth grade, got a really bad headache the next day at school. That was around 11 AM, 18 hours after he got the shot. He was freezing and had the chills. He tried to work through it and get through class. He borrowed his teacher's heater. At one point, he even fell asleep at the desk. He had played basketball with his dad the night before and thought he was just overtired.

When he got on the school bus to go to his after-care program, his muscles started
spasming and shaking, and he was unable to control his upper body. He couldn't walk. He called his dad on the school bus driver's cell phone, and his dad headed over to pick him up. But the caretaker at the after-care facility said they couldn't wait for his dad, and they called 911.

At first, we didn't know how serious it was. I went to pick up my 6-year-old son and take the cat to the vet, and my husband stayed at the hospital. We figured we'd divide and conquer, and we were in constant communication on the phone.

When I got to the hospital, he was moving his upper body uncontrollably. It seemed like he was dancing in the bed. It was so shocking and scary for everyone, because we didn't know what was going on.

The next day, they diagnosed Jordan with Guillain-Barre syndrome. The way they explained it to me was that GBS is a combination of symptoms, not something you can really test for definitively. But by Saturday, they were certain that is what he had.

Now Jordan is in a wheelchair and uses a walker. We've been told this is a treatable thing, and that he will get back his mobility and his strength through intense physical therapy.

It's a shock, to say the least.

They say GBS is so rare -- I don't know what the common denominator is of the people who get it. We've been hearing from a lot of other people who have GBS. Some say they didn't get a vaccine before they developed symptoms, and they don't know why they got it. Others got it right after receiving a vaccine, and many hate the drug companies and the government now. Every case is different. But there is no doubt in my mind that Jordan got GBS from his swine flu shot.

They say with some hard work, Jordan may be able to regain some mobility in six to eight weeks. That's what we are hoping for.

Jordan is holding up okay -- once he knew he was not going to play any sports anytime soon, it really sunk in for him. It's been difficult for the family. Before this, we were always playing some kind of sports, and now we're housebound. My in-laws have been over here taking shifts. We're not supposed to leave Jordan alone, even for a minute, so he has to be monitored 24 hours a day, just so he won't try to get up, then fall down and hurt himself.

Jordan's back to school some now, but has to use a wheelchair and have shorter days. He's in honors classes and doesn't want to get too far behind.

If someone asked me whether or not they should get a swine flu shot for their child, I would say it has to be up to that person. I think I would do it if this didn't happen to me. I would still do it. They keep saying 4,000 people have died of swine flu. I'd take this kind of paralysis over death.

But you still have to wonder ... why Jordan?

next: Dealing with the Other Woman
93 comments so far | Post a comment now
Angie November 23, 2009, 7:56 AM

This should hopefully make people seriously think twice about the swine flu vaccination. I don’t want to talk about the same stuff that is on this website so just read it:

The same thing is happening as did when they made a similar swine flu vaccine in 1976 but this time the CDC has their butts protected from any wrong doing. Any of you who care about outcomes your kid’s health need to do some serious investigation into this.

I am going to stop because I could seriously go on and on about this but now the ball is in your court- do some research! Doctor’s have advantages to selling these kinds of products- ask them to answer you honestly if they themselves or their own children are getting these vaccinations…

Anonymous November 23, 2009, 8:18 AM

maybe he had it before the shot.

Ashlee November 23, 2009, 8:25 AM

Yes, we should all do some research - scientifically sound research. Guillain-Barre is typically preceded by a viral illness. Most viral illnesses have an incubation period of 1 to 3 days. Considering the fact that this boy was on a cruise ship, an enclosed space filled with people, it’s likely that he contracted the illness before he got the vaccine. And while I am not trying to diminish the suffering that Guillain Barre has surely caused this family, take heart in the fact that the vast majority of patients do recover completely.

Kendra November 23, 2009, 8:37 AM

I know that doctors themselves benefit from selling many medications to patients, many doctors take kick backs from the drug companies for prescribing certain medications, however that is not the case with the swine flu vaccine, this vaccine is free. There is no cost to patients and the doctors are not getting any kick back from the government the cdc or the drug company for administering the vaccines. The way I see it is that the swine flu vaccine is no more dangerous than the seasonal flu shot, I don’t know why people are so up in arms about it. Even getting the seasonal flu shot is dangerous, every vaccine has side effects and GBS is a side effect to every vaccine on the market. I have had one pediatrician tell me to avoid the swine flu vaccine and 2 others tell me to vaccinate my children! I have been told by all to avoid the mist at all costs, to only take the injectible vaccine! Me and my children are both at very high risk and I’m struggling right now with the decision on whether to vaccinate against the swine flu or not, if I dont and any of us gets it it would mean certain death so at this point Im leaning on the side of vaccination. My children have had no ill side effects to any vaccines and I think this is no different than any other vaccine. So as of now I will vaccinate, unless any one can tell me why exposing myself and my children to certain death is better than vaccinating.

gbmonkey November 23, 2009, 9:10 AM

From what I am gathering from this article is that the son had both the swine flu and the regular flu shot at the same time. Maybe there is a correlation. That may have been too much. I definitely recommend one vaccine at a time even if it means multiple office visits. If your child does have a reaction to the vaccine at least you know which one it was from.

Pamala November 23, 2009, 9:34 AM

I can’t help but wonder if there was something else going on with the kid before the vaccination. It just sucks in general and hopefully he recovers fastly.

Trish November 23, 2009, 9:37 AM

What a scary situation, and I am glad that Jordan is on the road to recovery.

I think this mom has such a pragmatic and sensible attitude. It is so unfortunate that her son was one of the “statistics” that did contract one of the rare side effects of the vaccine. I know that when my son received the shot I was praying that we were lucky and thankfully, it looks like we were.

I see the statistics about the 1976 vaccination program thrown about all over the place. First, for so many reasons, I am thankful that medical science has made progress since 1976. Diseases that were fatal 33 years ago are easily treated and cured now.

Second, one of the “facts” I hear often repeated about the 1976 vaccination program is that after that program more people contracted GBS than died of the flu. That statement is used as a negative commentary on why you shouldn’t get the shot. I read that completely differently. In my view it shows that it worked. Millions of people were vaccinated and the number of deaths was minimized. Unfortunately, due to the high number of people that WERE vaccinated, the number of people that contracted side effects was also larger than a normal.

My brother contracted GBS (unrelated to a vaccine) and he has recovered. He can’t take the shot now, because it is contraindicated. BUT he has taken his three children to get their H1N1 shots. That to me says a lot.

christina November 23, 2009, 11:43 AM

The family was just on a cruise with thousands of other people. GB is triggered by an acute infectious process. It is more than a little irresponsible of her to state that she KNOWS the cause was the vaccine. I’m not saying it wasn’t, but his symptoms, according to her, appeared only 18 hours after the vaccine. Most infectious incubation periods are at least 24 hours or more. Personally, I’m going with viral exposure on the cruise ship.

Rachel November 23, 2009, 1:27 PM

Glad to hear such reasonable people respond for once. GBS is a side effect, as someone else mentioned, of many vaccines, including the regular flu vaccine. In my state (and I’m not sure how this is in other states), you/your kids can’t get a vaccine without signing consent forms and being informed by the doctor regarding benefits/risks.

Selena Larson November 23, 2009, 6:14 PM

I am a journalism student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism.
I am writing a story about the dangers of getting a flu shot that might be published in the Arizona Republic. If anyone has any flu shot stories, or know how to contact someone who has a story like this woman, please email me.
I would like to hear your story and share it with my readers.
My email is

I am very sorry for your son, and would like to share this story!

M.A.P November 23, 2009, 10:53 PM

I was advised by a few doctors of mine that I should get the swine flu vaccine because I am considered high risk for complications if I get the swine flu due an auto immune disorder that I have. I have been getting the regular flu shot annually for close to 5 years and never had any problems. So with the advise of my doctors, I went ahead and got it. About 30 mins after getting the vaccine I had extreme tingling and numbness all on my right side (the right arm is where I got the shot) and then extreme nausea followed by vomiting. I was given epinephrine (thankfully I work at the clinic that administered it and was at work at the time) and then also developed shortness of breath and had to have a breathing treatment. The next day I developed a blinding migraine that lasted for 3 days. My reaction is not as severe as this young man, but alot of my coworkers seriously reconsidered receiving it.

Angie November 24, 2009, 3:35 AM

What a shame! This is exactly why I’m not getting it nor do I allow my kids to get it - it’s still too new and there was not enough testing done. Anyone who did their research knew that.

MI November 24, 2009, 11:55 AM

If he was on a cruise ship, he could have picked up a different virus. Many people get sick on these cruises, typically colds, stomach flu or sometimes, they catch a bad virus. Looks like this kid will be just fine after a few weeks. If more people were getting sick like he did, then there would be a reason for concern. Most people that catch h1n1 recover within 1 week as long as their system is in order and resistance is normal.

Tom November 24, 2009, 7:03 PM

You have to remember that you might not see any immediate side effects from any flu shot. However, heavy metals such as murcury accumulate in the body and affect everybody differently. If you don’t see sympoms now, that does not mean that you won’t see symptoms in the years to come such as alzheimers or ADD/ADHD, etc (pardon the bad spelling).

Everybody has the right to choose for themselves I only wish the FDA would present enough accurate information for everybody to make a well informed decision.

Obviously this isn’t happening or you wouldn’t have so many doctors on each side of the fence contradicting each other while confusing all of us at the same time.

Allison November 25, 2009, 1:06 PM

So sorry this happened— but it very rare. And you would have killed yourself if he had gotten the swine flu and not had the vaccine and died— so you just have to weigh everything.

Bill November 26, 2009, 4:29 AM

1 B50 B complex tablet a day Feeds nerves. Vit c and Vit E antioxidants Vit D3 4-5000 IU day controls inflammation see youtube videos about Vit D3 Buy a pint of apple cider vinegar put 5 cloves of garlic and 5 stems with leaves of cilantro marinade for 5 days then take a shot(1-2 oz) or two a day. This chelates heavy metals out of the body. Make sure he moves bowels. Vaccines cause blood clots see Dr. Andrew Moulden see youtube. Try also cayenne red pepper and garlic put in gelatin capsules or or put half teaspoon of each in a cup of water and drink everyday helped kid with autism and detoxed my own vax. This works google Dr mercola’s Mercury detox protocol


Riz Story November 26, 2009, 10:01 PM

vaccines are evil…
the fact that your child is in this condition and you still recommend vaccines is proof of your overriding stupidity.

E December 19, 2009, 11:10 AM

You said you would do it all over again, because paralysis is better than death from the swine flu. That’s assuming he would have caught the swine flu. Then, assuming that he got ill enough from the swine flu to die! Many of the people who have been dying from the disease were obese, had underlying health problems etc. Does this formerly (as in before his vaccinations!) healthy young man fit the picture of someone at high risk to die from swine flu, were he to get it? So you have no way of knowing that he would die from the swine flu if he got it. Instead you’ve just decided that after listening to the media, who make it sound as if millions of people are going to die from the swine flu. I have had several neighbors get it, and it was mild, they were fine after a few days. I wonder how Jordan feels that you would do it all over again. Would he? Or does he believe 100% that he would have died from the swine flu, had you not injected him with these vaccines and saved his life by letting him get paralyzed? There was no way you could have known he would get GBS, but you know now, so please wake up and don’t let your son get this type of shot again—he is susceptible to these type of poor reactions to future shots or worse.

Anonymous February 9, 2010, 9:58 AM

I just received a bill from my pediatrician telling me i owe for my last appointment i had for my 1 year old. The bill states he got both the swine and the seasonal shots. I rejected the swine flu shot and yet it show on my statement that it was given to him. Right after the visit my son was very sick for about a week with fevers up to 105. I am very upset and dont know what to do. I hate thinking of what could have happened to him

Anonymous February 25, 2010, 5:07 AM

i think some of you just dont want to weigh the considerations that maybe NOTHING was wrong with him and the vaccine was just crappy!

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