In an exclusive interview with The Defender, Hayley Lopez, who developed postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome at age 29 after her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, can no longer work at the job she loves because she can’t pass the required medical tests.
At 29, Hayley Lopez had a promising career she had worked 12 years to achieve, as an air traffic controller at one of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) busiest facilities in the U.S.
On Oct. 8, 2021, that career came crashing to a halt 15 minutes after Lopez got her first, and only, dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
In an exclusive interview with The Defender, Lopez, now 30, shared her story, including the injuries she sustained and the challenges she experienced trying to get a diagnosis and treatment.
“About 15 minutes after the shot, I noticed arm and chest pain,” Lopez said. “Then, I noticed dizziness, shortness of breath, memory issues and stuttering within three days — and that’s when I knew something was really wrong.”
Lopez sought help at an urgent care facility, and while there, she said, drifted in and out of consciousness.
“My other symptoms include twitching, nerve pain, fatigue, high blood pressure, high heart rate, palpitations, lightheadedness, a feeling of vertigo and migraines,” Lopez said.
“I still suffer from all symptoms now, eight months later.”
“I want people to know that I was just a normal, healthy 29-year-old trying to navigate life,” Lopez said.
“I worked very hard to get to where I am in my career and at the time, I felt as though my world would end if I lost my job. I got the shot to keep my job and now it may end my career.”
For Lopez, the symptoms she experienced almost immediately after receiving the Pfizer shot were just part of her troubles. She also had difficulty locating a doctor who could diagnose her condition and who wouldn’t dismiss her concerns that the symptoms were vaccine-related.
“I could honestly go on and on about the healthcare system and how terrible you’re treated when you are vaccine-injured,” Lopez said. “I went to a total of 32 appointments with 17 different doctors in seven months.”
The first two doctors she saw in urgent care told her it was a coincidence that the symptoms developed immediately after the vaccine.
“They seemed more concerned with assuring me it wasn’t from the vaccine than treating me,” she said.