A 45-year-old man in British Columbia, Canada will reportedly receive monetary compensation from the government of Canada through its Vaccine Injury Support Program (VISP) for paralysis caused by Pfizer/BioNTech’s Comirnaty messenger RNA (mRNA) COVID-19 biologic. Julian Scholefield, who has been confined to a wheelchair for more than a year, received a second dose of Comirnaty on July 13, 2021. Twelve days later, he developed a neurological disorder known as acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) that left him paralyzed from the waist down.1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
In the fall of 2021, Scholefield filed a claim for compensation with the VISP and submitted his medical records. On Jan. 13, 2023, he was notified that his claim had been approved and that the “next step would be to be determining the dollar value of that.” As of Dec. 1, 2022, a total of 1,299 claims have been filed with the VISP. Of those, 50 have been approved by the program’s medical review board for nearly $2.8 million in compensation. The board determined that there was a “probable link between the injury and the vaccine, and that the injury [was] serious and permanent.”1 4 6
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, 53,611 adverse events following COVID vaccination have been reported, with 10,565 of them considered to be serious.10
Neurologist Concluded Paralysis May Have Been Linked to the COVID Shot
Scholefield began to develop paralysis over the course of a few hours when he was out boating on Okanagan Lake with is family on July 25, 2021. He noticed a tingling sensation in his left leg. “I was sitting, driving the boat. I realized my left leg started to feel funny and tingly,” Scholefield said. “Rather than getting better, it actually progressed worse and went from being just in the left leg to the right leg as well. Within a two-hour period, I ended up paralyzed from really the mid-section down.”1 3 8
A neurologist diagnosed Scholefield with a myelitic (inflammation of the spinal cord) form of ADEM, which can cause paralysis, loss of vision and difficulty in voluntary muscle coordination. He said:
A neurologist who really took an in-depth study into my case did further testing on me and was able to essentially eliminate any other causes except for the COVID vaccine. … They were able to just eliminate every other possible cause. And there’s this outlier, where I had the vaccine.”1 2 3 4
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) is a neurological disorder characterized by brief but widespread attacks of inflammation (swelling) in the brain and spinal cord that damages myelin. Myelin is the whitish protective coating over nerves that helps with electrical nerve signaling. ADEM often appears following a viral or bacterial infection and sometimes (rarely) following a vaccination. It is sometimes misdiagnosed as the first severe attack of multiple sclerosis, since the symptoms and appearance of damage to the white matter may be similar. ADEM may be an autoimmune condition, in which the body’s immune system mistakenly identifies and attacks healthy cells and tissue.
A study published in the journal Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology in March 2022 states that ADEM has “long been known to be a rare adverse event following some types of vaccinations.” Onset of ADEM reportedly can occur up to six weeks after receiving a COVID shot.4 8 14 15
VISP Too Slow and Insufficient to Cover Costs of Vaccine Injury
“I think that the government understood that there was going to be risks associated with the COVID vaccination program, and they set up the vaccine injury support [program] to help people,” Scholefield said. But, he added, “It’s not doing enough and it’s certainly not doing it in a timely manner. I am not against vaccines per se, but certainly, in my shoes, there is a downside to the COVID vaccine.”1 4
Scholefield has reportedly been on medical leave from work and has been receiving treatments to help strengthen his immune system. He and his family have run up significant debts to pay for his wheelchair, the installation of an elevator in his home, hospital bills, medical supplies and travel expenses. “We’ve got a three-floor lift and that was a significant cost, obviously out of pocket,” Scholefield said. “That cost may or may not be covered by the vaccine injury support program. We don’t know. And so at this stage, it’s a debt that’s sort of lingering, sitting there.”2 3 4
Scholefield’s wife, Angela, established a GoFundMe page to raise money to cover the costs of the vaccine-related injury and, so far, they have raised nearly $73,000. In a March 2022 update of the page, she wrote:
Our fight for the past seven months has been to get him better. He spent 89 days in hospital and unfortunately, to date, is still paralyzed. Our life as we once knew it has been turned upside down. We fight every day emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Our many appointments for rehab and home renovations expenses have been incurred and paid for out of pocket.4
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1 Adams R. Federal program to compensate B.C. man for COVID-19 vaccine-related paralysis. Global News Jan. 14, 2023.
2 Adverse Reaction Report. Jab Injured: Paralyzed BC Man Yet to Receive Any Government Support One Year Later. June 2022.
3 Burdick S. 45-year-old Canadian paralyzed after Pfizer shot. The Defender June 24, 2022.
4 Cathcart M. BC Man Paralyzed After COVID Vaccination Receives Feds’ Approval for Compensation 15 Months Later. The Epoch Times Jan. 15, 2023.
5 National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis.
6 Powrie/Castanet C. ‘It doesn’t make sense’: B.C. man feels left out to dry by government after slow pace of vaccine injury assessment. North Shore News Jan. 10, 2023.
7 Real, Not Rare. Julian Scholefield. Feb. 21, 2022.
8 Strachan B. B.C. man who had rare neurological reaction to COVID vaccine awaiting decision on government support. CBC June 22, 2022.
9 Vaccine Injury Support Program (VISP).
10 Government of Canada. Reported side effects following COVID-19 vaccination in Canada. Jan. 20, 2023.
11 Anilkumar A C, Foris LA, Tadi P. Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis. StatPearls July 18, 2022.
12 Huynh W, Cordato DJ, Kehdi E et al. Post-vaccination encephalomyelitis: Literature review and illustrative case. J Clin Neurosci 2008; 15(12): 1315-1322.
13 Bennetto L, Scolding N. Inflammatory/Post-Infectious Encephalomyelitis. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2004; 75 (Suppl 1).
14 Permezel F, Borojevic B, Lau S, de Boer HH. Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) following recent Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination. Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology March 22; 18(1): 74-79.
15 BC Centre for Disease Control. Summary of AEFI Reporting Criteria for COVID-19 Vaccination.