A security guard who worked at an Alberta COVID-19 vaccine clinic said he saw "hundreds" of people have adverse reactions, including dozens who fainted and had to be laid on mats in separate rooms.
"They started putting mats outside all the rooms because so many people were either fainting or feeling faint and had to lay down. It started to disturb me," Bob Burke said.
Burke said he was contracted to work at a vaccine clinic in Alberta in December 2020. Because Burke worked 12-hour days, seven days on and seven days off, he witnessed the side effects as each age group began receiving COVID-19 vaccines.
Burke told the Western Standard that seniors — the first age group to get vaccinated — had few adverse reactions. But when those aged 50 and under began receiving their doses, he started seeing "dozens" of people fainting. "Their legs would give out and they'd just collapse," he said.
So many people were fainting that nurses started placing them onto mats outside the vaccination rooms. "Then they would close the door so nobody would see," he said.
Burke said one day, he saw a younger man who had a seizure immediately after his dose.
"He dropped his phone and I went to grab it for him. When I picked it up and I looked at him, he was banging his head against the wall because he was in convulsions," he said.
Most people in line at the time saw the man have a seizure, nobody turned away, Burke said. "I thought, 'you guys have got to be kidding me. Did you not see this guy have a seizure?'" Burke said.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) told the Western Standard that it is "common and normal" to have temporary side effects from COVID-19 vaccines. "These usually last from a few hours to a few days after vaccination. This is the body's natural response, as it's working hard to build immunity against the disease," spokesperson Anne Genier said in an email statement.
The PHAC's website does not list fainting or seizures as a side effect of COVID-19 vaccination.
'They were doubled over in pain and rubbing their shoulder'
Burke said the most common adverse reaction to vaccines he saw was arm swelling, redness and pain, which is what the PHAC has said people should expect. But Burke said those side effects were more severe than he had expected.
"I've had vaccines that hurt my arm when I got them. But this was like, they were in serious pain. They were doubled over and rubbing their shoulder, and some of them were even groaning," Burke said.
"I thought to myself, 'at our yearly flu vaccine sites I'm pretty sure they don't have mats outside the rooms for people who fainted. None of this is normal.'"
Burke said the adverse reactions to the COVID-19 vaccines were most frequent in children aged 12 to 18.
"Unfortunately, I've seen a few dead bodies. And I saw this little girl who was doubled over and had an ice pack on her neck. I walked by and she looked at me, and her face was the same greenish-grey colour of a corpse," he said.
At one point, a receptionist working at the vaccine clinic told Burke, through tears, that she didn't know how much longer she could continue working.
"I asked her what was wrong and she said, 'Didn't you hear him? There's a 15-year-old boy laying on a mat outside of here who started screaming as soon as they gave him the vaccine.' And they had him in there lying down on a mat for two and a half hours," Burke said.
Burke said there was a hospital located "literally one block" away from the vaccine clinic, yet none who experienced an adverse reaction was sent there.
"When a guy goes into convulsions and is smashing his head into the wall, wouldn't you at least send him over there to check for a concussion? Nothing made sense."
In a statement to the Western Standard, Alberta Health Services (AHS) said they were not aware of "any significant number of adverse events," in the city Burke worked in.
"There were three adverse events recorded in [the city] that required medical intervention, including one client transported via ambulance for assessment," said Kerry Williamson, executive director of Issues Management at AHS. "There were also a few incidents unrelated to vaccination, where health or other issues occurred at the clinic."
Williamson said fainting is "fairly common and familiar" in immunization clinics and are generally a reaction to the vaccination process as opposed to the vaccine itself. He added that at times, mats may be offered to clients for their comfort.
PHAC 'closely monitoring' COVID-19 vaccines for any safety concerns
Burke added people who were vaccinated at the clinic only had to stay for 15 minutes.
"So how many people had some type of reaction after they had left the clinic? I'm betting quite a few."
Burke said in the spring of 2022, he had had enough. He decided to go public with his experience, which would have effectively ended his employment as a security guard. But no media outlets wanted to hear his story.
Burke said his experience at the vaccination clinic convinced him and his wife not to get the COVID-19 vaccine. But he has a friend whose 56-year-old daughter died shortly after getting vaccinated and is "totally convinced" the vaccine was to blame.
"There's also a couple of people who died shortly after the vaccine who didn't have any health problems before, but I have no way of tying it to the vaccines. There's no way to prove it."
PHAC told the Western Standard that safety monitoring is ongoing for the COVID-19 vaccines. "The Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada, and provincial and territorial health authorities continue to closely monitor the use of all COVID-19 vaccines and examine and assess any new safety concerns."
"We encourage anyone who witnesses or experiences a possible reaction to a vaccine to report it to their health care provider."