Tim Zook’s last post on Facebook brimmed with optimism. “Never been so excited to get a shot before,” he wrote on Jan. 5, above a photo of the Band-Aid on his arm and his COVID-19 vaccination card. “I am now fully vaccinated after receiving my 2nd Pfizer dose.”
Zook, 60, was an X-ray technologist at South Coast Global Medical Center in Santa Ana. A couple of hours later, he had an upset stomach and trouble breathing. By 3:30 p.m. it was so bad his colleagues at work walked him to the emergency room. “Should I be worried?” his wife, Rochelle, texted when she got the news. “No, absolutely not,” he texted back. “Do you think this is a direct result of the vaccine?” she typed. “No, no,” he said. “I’m not sure what. But don’t worry.”
There were suspicions of COVID and a diagnosis of congestive heart failure. Zook was put on oxygen, then — just four hours later — a BiPAP machine to help push air into the lungs. Multiple tests came back negative for COVID.
“We are not blaming any pharmaceutical company,” said Rochelle Zook, a resident of Orange. “My husband loved what he did. He worked in hospitals for 36 1/2 years. He believed in vaccines. I’m sure he would take that vaccine again, and he’d want the public to take it.
“But when someone gets symptoms 2 1/2 hours after a vaccine, that’s a reaction. What else could have happened? We would like the public to know what happened to Tim, so he didn’t die in vain. Severe reactions are rare. In reality, COVID is a much more deadly force than reactions from the potential vaccine itself.
“The message is, be safe, take the vaccine — but the officials need to do more research. We need to know the cause. The vaccines need to be as safe as possible. Every life matters.”