I am an international student at UR. During this pandemic, I have seen the worst and the best from people. This is a hard time for everyone, so I understand people are struggling, and I personally strive to do my best for my University community. However, I have been failed by a recent incident of racism on the River Campus which harmed my physical and mental wellness. When I tell you to “trust the victim,” I hope you can trust me and my story. The school seems to be reluctant to help me, and they’ve been making me wait for almost a month. Frustrated, I seek being seen by student news outlets like the Campus Times.
The incident involves a UHS employee. It’s been almost a month since it happened. On Feb. 27, UHS finally replied to me in an official letter, yet they put words in my mouth and distorted what I said. They claimed that I said I had palpitations after the second dose, where I never said so. On the contrary, I only had palpitations after failing to get a medical exemption for the booster. They claimed I wrongfully accused two providers, but the first accusation was a mistake that I corrected immediately. I hope to share my story with the Campus Times so that people can be more aware of racism and its harms.
A UHS provider was inappropriate with me regarding my allergy to the COVID-19 vaccine. She acted racist to me. Even worse, I think she committed medical malpractice against me due to racism. She refused me a medical exemption to a vaccine that I am allergic to, causing me month-long suffering.
I believe in vaccines. I believe in the COVID-19 vaccine. Yet, I think people who present allergic reactions should be exempted. People like me.
I’ve had a healthy heart my whole life, yet I got tachycardia immediately after my Pfizer booster shot. As my post-booster tachycardia persisted, I did some research to form some opinions about how my provider at UHS may have committed malpractice against me.
On Jan. 5, I spoke to my UHS provider about my chest pains and difficulty breathing after receiving my second dose of Pfizer back in May 2021.
My UHS provider did not believe me.
She also asked irrelevant questions such as, “Are you Chinese? Chinese people are forced to get the vaccine in China.” She even said my chest pain after the second dose was not valid. It is though, per CDC guidelines on what constitutes an allergy.
So, I failed to get a medical exemption from the booster, and I got boosted on Jan. 26.
Since then, I have been to the ER twice, and I’ve done three EKGS — one echocardiogram, one chest x-ray, and one IV fluid. I was diagnosed first with arrhythmia, then tachycardia. I was on a heart monitor for 24 hours. I am on medication now to control my high heart rate. A healthy heart rate variability is above 100; mine is 45-80 at most. It’s been almost a month of tachycardia, and my life remains changed by this condition. I cannot participate in the sports that I like, and I have to monitor my heart rate even during small walks. If I walk too fast, I’ll retch.
The cardiologist’s office even put “allergy to COVID vaccine” on my record because of how badly my body is reacting to it.
My UHS provider likely misjudged my condition because of my race. I do not know what she thinks of Chinese people, but making my nationality a big deal in a discussion of a COVID-19 exemption was bizarre. I am making a reasonable assumption that she thought I was lying about my reaction to the second Pfizer dose. Why would I? And my allergy is now proven by my tachycardia after a booster shot. My UHS provider was wrong. My UHS provider was using her emotions and predispositions to influence her supposedly impartial medical judgment.
Even worse, in the Feb. 27 letter issued by UHS, they distorted the focus of my complaint and made up things I never said. When I tried to get a medical exemption for the booster, I based my argument on my chest pain and difficulty breathing after the second shot. Yet, UHS tried to claim that I falsely reported palpitations after the second shot. On the contrary, I only had palpitations after the booster, as an allergic reaction. This false accusation and distortion of facts is very frustrating and confusing.
In my opinion, my UHS provider violated the ethics of a health professional, and she violated the University’s core values of being equal and valuing diversity. As an international student, I feel very hurt. I have been COVID-19 compliant throughout the pandemic. I social distance and I show up for COVID-19 tests. However, just when my COVID-19 vaccine allergy required a little help from my community, I was refused and I suffered for a racist’s mistake.
I hope to be seen and be helped. I hope no one else has to experience my pain.