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Filipina vaccine patient 'had hypertension, seizure history'

14 May 2021

By Daisy Mandap 

Gemalyn Gabon is still in intensive care at Princess Margaret Hospital

A 31-year-old Filipina domestic workers remains in intensive care at Princess Margaret Hospital, two days after she fainted within minutes of taking her second dose of the BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at Lai Chi Kok Park.

Hospital Authority staff said Gemalyn L. Gabon remained in critical condition today, May 14, but Welfare Office Virsie B. Tamayao of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration said the patient was just heavily sedated and not unconscious. 


Tamayao, who visited Gabon at the hospital last night, said the attending doctor did a CT scan that showed the patient had no brain injury. But she continued having seizures so she was given medicines that made her drowsy and put her "in a deep sleep."

“The doctor said her (Gabon’s) blood pressure is high, but not too much,” said Tamayao.

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But when she checked Gabon’s medical history, the doctor reportedly found out that that the Filipina became hypertensive last year that she had to be confined at Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Gabon’s sister also reportedly told the doctor that when the patient was young, she had epileptic seizures twice, but they had not recurred since.

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Asked if she thought the vaccination had caused Gabon’s seizures, the doctor reportedly said, “I don’t think so. I think it’s just a coincidence, given her past medical history.”

But the doctor told Tamayao that Gabon will be subjected to further tests, including an electroencephalogram to detect electrical activity in her brain and find out what was causing her seizures.


However, she is said to have a good chance of recovery since a CT scan made earlier did not detect any brain injury. Neither does she have fever, which could indicate an infection.

Gabon arrived in Hong Kong only in January 2020 (photo from Facebook)

Gabon, a single mother of two and native of Gloria, Oriental Mindoro, had worked in Dubai, United Arab Emirates previously, but did not seem to suffer any medical problems. 

She arrived in Hong Kong in January 2020, and moved to a new employer after a year.

Tunghayan ang isa na namang kwentong Dream Love.

Her current employer reportedly told Tamayao that the helper was very active and hardworking.

Parang wala naman daw sakit,” (She didn't seem to be sick at all) Tamayao recalled the employer as saying. 

Although the employer did not require the worker to undergo medical examination before hiring her, she would have been certified as “fit to work” before leaving the Philippines just a year earlier.

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On being asked by the doctor, the employer said that after Gabon had her first dose of the vaccine, she vomited and complained of a headache that lasted for around two hours. However, she did not seek medical attention.

On Wednesday, at about 4:30pm, she collapsed in the holding area of the vaccination center, just a few minutes after she had her second jab. Fellow Filipinas at the scene could be overheard as saying that Gabon’s hands were shaking.

Late last night, the Hospital Authority posted a report on adverse events following vaccinations that happened within the day, including Gabon’s, whose symptoms were described as “convulsions.”

Of the six people who were taken to hospitals after vaccination on the same day, she was the only one who was admitted, and her condition was described as “critical.”

Two others were recorded as having convulsions, with one also losing consciousness; two complained of feeling dizzy, while one suffered from vertigo.

According to the report, about 25,700 people had received vaccination on the same day.

It also said that as background information, there were 49 cases of stroke or myocardial infarction that happened on the same day. All were admitted to either the intensive care unit, the acute stroke unit or the cardiac care unit of public hospitals.

“The state of new cases admitted to the wards concerned is provided as a cross reference to enhance fuller public understanding of cases of the kind recorded on vaccine recipients,” said the statement.

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