This is the ninth in a series of stories of people being fired from their jobs because they have declined to take the required Covid-19 vaccination. The identities of these workers are being kept confidential because they fear reprisal. More stories will be included in future editions of this series as it continues. Previous interviews in this series are listed and linked at the bottom of this story. Send your story to [email protected].
Sophie has worked for Southcentral Foundation for a few years. She is in her early 30s and is a mother. She interacts with patients, although she is not on the medical staff, and her interactions are of the paperwork variety. On Oct. 15, she’ll be fired for refusing the Covid-19 vaccine.
When the Moderna vaccine became available in late January, Sophie took the first shot because it seemed like the right thing to do. But then, her menstrual cycle stopped entirely. And it has never returned.
Sophie isn’t going to take the second shot. She very much wants to have more children, but at this point, she’s not able to shed the lining of her uterus, and her chance of being able to bear more babies looks bleak to her. She hasn’t been able to get answers from doctors about her sudden condition.
Southcentral Foundation requires a vaccine for Covid as a condition of employment.
Sophie tried to get a medical exemption, but was blocked by the human resources department. A friend finally got her the right form to fill out. She has low confidence her request for an exemption will be honored.
She says she has not felt the same since she got the vaccine, and she went to see a Southcentral Foundation doctor this summer, but her concerns were brushed off. The doctor said she should take a pregnancy test. Sophie knew she wasn’t pregnant in June, and she’s not pregnant now. She just has not seen her cycle for eight months.
“The look on that doctor’s face — it was as if she didn’t believe me,” Sophie said. “Trust me, I’m not a big girl. If I was pregnant, it would show.”
Another health provider she goes to was willing to write her a letter to be exempt from the vaccine mandate, but time is running out and now she is stressed to the max. Without definitive answers, she cannot say the Moderna vaccine is to blame, but her cycles have always been regular; she’s tracked them for years in a diary.
“I’m not willing to jeopardize my health, and I want to have more children one day,” Sophie said. She is looking for some kind of miracle that will allow her to keep her job, and also allow her to determine, through time, tests, and medical inquiry, what has happened to her monthly cycle since she received the first shot.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that all eligible persons greater than age 12 years, “including pregnant and lactating individuals,” receive a Covid-19 vaccine or vaccine series.
“For patients who do not receive the vaccine, the discussion should be documented in the patient’s medical record. During subsequent office visits, obstetrician–gynecologists should address ongoing questions and concerns and offer vaccination again,” the physicians group writes.
But there are enough reports about menstrual cycle irregularities — either heavy or light cycles — that the National Institute of Health has recently awarded grants to look into the link between the Covid-19 vaccines and women’s reproductive health.
The grants, totaling $1.67 million, are “to explore potential links between COVID-19 vaccination and menstrual changes. Researchers at Boston University, Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins University, Michigan State University, and Oregon Health and Science University will investigate whether such changes may be linked to the COVID-19 vaccine itself or if they are coincidental, the mechanism underlying any vaccine-related changes, and how long any changes last.”
Several of these studies will use blood, tissue, and saliva samples collected before and after vaccination to analyze any immune or hormone changes, the NIH said in a news release on Oct. 5. “Other studies will use established resources — such as large cohort studies and menstrual cycle tracking apps — to collect and analyze data from racially, ethnically, and geographically diverse populations. Two studies will focus on specific populations, including adolescents and people with endometriosis.”
These studies will take months or years, and for Sophie, a single mother with a strong sense of self-determination, the studies are too little, too late.
Send your story of being fired for not taking the vaccine to [email protected]