Air National Guard denies coverage for doctor-supported claim of COVID vax injury, says airman
"Our family doctor told me to NEVER get another covid shot as the next one would most likely kill me," wrote Coby Israel.
An Air National Guardsman who suffered an allergic reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine after receiving the shot on base was denied military healthcare benefits for the injury, meaning his resulting medical bills weren't covered and he wouldn't be exempt from a booster mandate if one is implemented.
Senior Airman Coby Israel of the 139th Airlift Wing has served in the Missouri Air National Guard for four-and-a-half years and is a crew chief, which means he maintains, services, and inspects aircraft before and after flights.
Israel told Just the News recently that he received the second COVID shot on Nov. 7, 2021 after arriving on base to drill and being told to either submit a Religious Accommodation Request for exemption from the vaccine mandate or get the jab. He had received the first shot, he recounted, and had heard about service members being dishonorably discharged for not complying with the direct order to get vaccinated. Since he is a student receiving educational benefits from the military, he didn't have much of a choice, he explained.
After receiving the second shot, Israel immediately reacted with COVID symptoms and was sent home. In the following days, his face would break out in a red, burning rash. On Nov. 14, he recalled, he "broke out in hives and had an anaphylactic reaction" and was rushed to the emergency room because he was unable to breathe as his throat closed from being swollen. The hospital gave Israel a steroid and Benadryl for his reaction, which the ER doctor said was a result of the shot.
Two days later, Israel went to his family doctor as he was reacting to the shot again. His doctor told him not to get a booster shot because of his reaction to the second dose.
Israel’s mother ordered an EKG test, which found he had an irregular heart rate. He was referred to a cardiologist, who performed a test and found he had a prominent moderator band of the right ventricle in his heart. The cardiologist wouldn't say what caused the anaphylaxis but said that the prominent moderator band was from the COVID shot.
Israel said that after the anaphylactic reaction he was sick every week with a new illness, from strep throat to bronchitis to mono to COVID. His mother, Jamie, told Just the News that he basically "didn't have an immune system" from November 2021 to March 2022, as he would repeatedly contract illnesses.
Because Israel received the vaccine while on active duty orders, he requested a Line of Duty (LOD) determination. When an LOD determination is granted, it means that a service member who is injured or becomes sick while on orders will receive medical benefits from the military to cover the costs of care.
Israel's LOD determination was denied. He appealed the denial, which was also denied. When the military refused to pay for the ER and cardiologist visits, Israel's mother tried to get their medical insurance to pay for them. However, since Israel was on active duty orders when he received the shot, the insurance company said the military should pay for it as workers' compensation.
Israel is also seeing a chiropractor for Nutrition Response Testing and supplements as a result of his reaction to the shot, which is an out-of-pocket expense that isn't covered by his medical insurance.
The insurance company asked for the Air National Guard's denial of Israel's LOD determination as part of filling out a military workers' compensation form, but still denied coverage for the ER and cardiologist visits. In order to have the insurance company pay the medical bills, Israel's mother said she didn't know what caused the anaphylactic reaction and that it occurred at the ER.
Israel and his mother are still trying to get the LOD determination approved by the Air National Guard in case a mandate for booster shots is enforced. As of now, wouldn't qualify for a medical exemption since the military hasn't granted his LOD determination.
"Our family doctor told me to NEVER get another covid shot as the next one would most likely kill me," Israel wrote in his appeal to the denied LOD determination.
The next step available to Israel is to take the denied LOD determination to the Board of Corrections instead to try to have it approved, which could be a two-year process, according to his attorney, R. Davis Younts.
In the meantime, Israel, who has a six-year contract with the Air National Guard, has continued drilling when he's not at school. The cardiologist cleared him in July 2022. However, since he continued to contract illnesses, he had his tonsils removed in December 2022. Since then, he has been healthy.
Younts told Just the News that since Israel was on active duty orders when he received the shot, his LOD determination should be approved. However, the "problem is getting the military to acknowledge something that's a vaccine injury," he said.
If it is a matter of policy for the military to refuse to acknowledge a reaction such as Israel's as a vaccine injury, then it will "have decades of implications for military members," Younts warned. With other vaccines in the past, the military has recognized vaccine injuries, he said.
It is unknown how many people in the military have been denied LOD determinations for COVID vaccine injuries, Younts noted, adding that sometimes complications from the vaccine are delayed for months.
If the military won't approve Israel's LOD determination, then he wouldn't be eligible for Veterans Affairs benefits in the future, should he need them for possible later complications, Younts explained.
Military members were threatened with court-martial and dishonorable discharge for noncompliance with the vaccine mandate and denied informed consent despite the COVID vaccine being an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) product at the time Israel received it, according to Younts. The military cannot legally force service members to take EUA products.
The 139th Airlift Wing has not responded to a request for comment.
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