A Lethbridge woman feels vindication and relief over the acceptance of her vaccine injury claim and is devoting what time she can to helping others in similar circumstances.
Carrie Sakamoto was a healthy woman two years ago. First, she received an AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination, and followed up with Pfizer’s version in July of 2021. She was never well again.
“I got sick that evening, but it was just like regular flu symptoms, which is what my husband had as well. So it wasn’t alarming. And then about eight days in, my husband got better and I got worse. And then by day ten, I was in the hospital,” Sakamoto recalled in an interview with the Western Standard.
Bell’s Palsy was setting in, causing Sakamoto’s brain to swell, causing “really bad” vomiting. Her 5-ft 4-ins. frame shrunk to 100 lbs.
“I wasn’t able to eat because I had all these flu symptoms. By the time I got to hospital, I was in pretty bad shape. It was pretty scary, I was there for 17 days,” Sakamoto recalled.
“I had to learn how to walk with a walker because my balance was gone. I had to learn to chew and swallow, which I couldn’t do. I had a feeding tube too, because I kept aspirating on the food I was trying to chew. So, I had to overcome a lot.”
Sakamoto was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy that causes her facial paralysis and dizziness. She now has a hearing aid in her right ear due to 35% hearing loss that ensued. She also suffers with trigeminal neuralgia, a condition characterized by pain coming from the trigeminal nerve, which starts near the top of the ear and splits in three, toward the eye, cheek and jaw.
Canada’s Vaccine Injury Support Program exists to help those with permanent injuries caused by vaccination. Even though Sakamoto’s vaccination caused her to get sick overnight, it took many months for her claim to be accepted.
“In the beginning, I had a caseworker who…was really abusive towards me, yelling and screaming at me, lying to me, prolonged this whole process, made things very difficult for me, way more than it needed to be. He was excused from my case, and this other woman took over who was really good at her job.”
On March 1 this year, Sakamoto finally got the call she was waiting for. In an eight-minute call, her case manager apologized for the conduct of the previous case worker, expressed sympathy for the harm suffered from the Pfizer vaccine, and offered a compensation package.
Sakamoto said the call was “very overwhelming” and triggered “a lot of emotions. But vindicated was one word that comes to mind. Relief because that’s over, I feel like I can just focus on healing more, instead of this constant fight or flight.”
The confirmation letter sent March 3 included a lump sum payment and added, “In addition to the Injury Indemnity Benefit, you may qualify for Income Replacement and/or reimbursement of Eligible Expenses.”
Sakamoto did not disclose the lump sum amount but said it was “less than $100,000” and “enough to make a small difference.”
When asked if in hindsight Sakamoto had made an informed choice, she said, “That’s hard. I feel like I need a too quick of a choice. I feel like I should have waited longer to see what was going to happen.
“Instead, I jumped forward and I was like, ‘Let’s do this. Let’s get ‘er done.’ And then unfortunately, I’ve had to pay the price for that.”
Then again, Sakamoto might not have found stories of adverse reactions. It was the story few outlets were willing to tell.
“If I were to call Global News right now, they’d take an interview, but I tried talking to them 20 months ago, and they said that even though I had all these doctors behind me, until the government said, ‘Yep,’ they all said, No, we can’t talk about anything negative when it comes to [the vaccine],” Sakamoto recalled.
“It’s so controversial still. Even though I had all of my doctors saying this is what it was, I had to wait for these three medical doctors in the government. I don’t know who they are. They never spoke to me directly. They never saw a picture of me…And it took so long.”
Sakamoto said her injuries required her family to adapt. Her husband laid aside his job as a music producer and worked the oil rigs to pay bills. The household moved off an acreage and into Lethbridge. They have children aged 21, 15, and 12.
“I couldn’t drive, and my children were isolated. We were all isolated out in the country. So we gave that up and moved to town. We’ve all just adapted, but it’s hard. It’s doctor’s appointments all the time. It’s always something.”
The 47-year-old has a TikTok called CanadianFlowers with almost 11,000 followers. She says she is dedicated to helping others who are navigating their way through life after a vaccine injury.
“In the last 20 months, I’ve made contact with a lot of people through Tik Tok, and a bunch of vaccine injured people…I know so many, not so many. I’ve met a handful of people that are afraid to speak up. And that’s really sad,” she said.
“One lady I was speaking to, she was afraid to speak up even to her own family as to how bad it was. Her one doctor that she had seen had kind of brushed it under the table. And she was afraid to go back for a second opinion. Now, she did go back for a second opinion. She got the paperwork, and it has been sent in and her journey has begun with this.”
Others, Sakamoto said, seem to get stonewalled, by doctors who refuse to make the connection between the onset of symptoms and a COVID-19 vaccine.
“I’m having people, a lot of people telling me they’re just getting stopped by the doctors, they’re going to their doctors with these claims. And the doctors are saying no, that’s not what did it,” Sakamoto said.
“I’m going to try and help people like me because we’re out there. I can’t do a lot. But I [can offer] moral support and a little bit of guidance. I can give my experience.”