WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA — Two of the many Floridians who have suffered injuries as a result of taking the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine shared their heart-wrenching stories with more than a quarter of a million online viewers.
The testimonies supplemented a panel discussion by scientific and medical experts from around the world, which culminated in Governor Ron DeSantis’ announcement that that the State of Florida is impaneling a grand jury to review evidence to hold COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers accountable under Florida law.
“Today, I’m announcing a petition with the Supreme Court of Florida to impanel a statewide grand jury to investigate any and all wrongdoing in Florida with respect to the COVID-19 vaccines,” DeSantis said. “That will come with legal processes that will be able to get more information and bring legal accountability for those who committed misconduct.”
“YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP”
Steven Ordonia, a retired law enforcement officer and military veteran in Pensacola, was the first to provide testimony of the injuries he suffered as a result of getting vaccinated.
Ordonia, 63, said he and his wife received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in March 2021. The couple was looking forward to a family reunion in Hawaii over the summer and opted to get vaccinated in order to avoid travel disruption. In December 2021, they got the Pfizer booster.
“From that day on, my life has been turned upside down,” Ordonia said.
The ex-cop said he immediately became ill and started experiencing stroke-like symptoms, prompting his first emergency room visit. He made several return trips when his alarming symptoms continued.
“It got so bad that at night I started getting symmetrical joint pain,” he said. “All of a sudden the joint pain stops – I mean you can’t make this stuff up – and immediately the muscle tremors start.”
The tremors abruptly stopped after a few weeks, but were quickly followed by “uncontrollable flailing” and convulsions during his sleep. After his fifth trip to the ER in February failed to provide any clarity on the underlying cause of his condition, Ordonia’s emotional and mental wellbeing took a dark turn.
“Keep in mind, I’m a big strong cop. I was always real quiet, I was always reserved,” he said. “And I was embarrassed because I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I was convinced I was having a mental breakdown. I contemplated suicide several times.”
Ordonia says he also experienced double vision, and had trouble swallowing because his eye and throat muscles began deteriorating. Fortunately, he has started seeing improvements after being treated by a doctor with the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance.
“IT FELT LIKE BUGS CRAWLING IN MY SKIN”
Sixth-generation Floridian Michelle Utter is a healthcare worker in New Smyrna Beach with three sons in the military. Prior to getting the shot, she says she stayed very active, often working out, doing martial arts and even running spartan races.
When the vaccine rollouts first began, Utter felt pressure from her employer to get the shot.
“We were sent out emails, administration [was] coming down to the floor, telling us the importance of the vaccine, that they were safe and effective. That we would be saving our families lives, our patient’s lives, our loved ones and ourselves,” she said.
In order to visit her sons, Utter had to be vaccinated, so she gave in to the collective pressure from her employer and the government’s permission to visit her sons if needed.
Utter says she asked her doctor about the vaccine and he assured her she would be fine. After getting her first shot in December 2020, she experienced flu-like symptoms.
“Between needing my job, being single, and the mandates, I got it,” she said of the first shot.
A month later, she was even more hesitant to get the second shot, but was again reassured by a pharmacist that it was safe.
“Against my gut feeling I took it. Forty-five minutes later I was in the parking lot. Aches, pains, twitching of my nerves. An hour later I had a fever.”
The next morning, Utter woke up in terrible pain and collapsed after getting out of bed.
“My hips were hurting so bad I couldn’t move. The feeling of pins and needles sticking out of my skin and it felt like bugs crawling in my skin. Inflammation everywhere.”
Utter went back to work a few days later, and asked her administration and supervisor if anyone else had adverse effects like her. She says they dismissed her and called it a preexisting condition.
She saw a neurologist and underwent a test and three MRIs. Her conditions continued to get worse and she spent five days in the ER on intravenous immune globulin (IVIG). For the past, 17 months of IVIG infusions that last between 6–10 hours. She says the cost is around $14,000 a month.
“I sit there alone. It’s scary and it’s hard to go through this,” she said. “I feel quite a bit like a guinea pig.”
Utter lamented the disrespect that she has experienced from her peers and superiors at work.
“Working in healthcare you would think that you would get the best care and resources available to you,” she said. “I was being ignored, gaslit and abandoned. I continue to work through this for a year. No one helping in HR. Nothing at all.”
Worse yet, she says her story is being suppressed and her voice silenced.
“I have a target on my back. I recently was told that I was not allowed to say ‘vaccine injury’ or talk about my injuries if anyone asked me how I was doing.”
SURGEON GENERAL RESPONDS
After Utter concluded, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo offered his sympathies with her tragic circumstances.
“I haven’t been there, but I get it,” he said. “Because people are suffering in silence or they’re suffering alone because they’re in an environment where people are telling them the things they’re experiencing aren’t true.”
Ladapo thanked both Utter and Ordonia for sharing their stories with the public.
“I can’t imagine quite how it feels, but I know it must feel necessary because you’ve had to do a lot of this very much alone,” he said. “It’s hard to imagine how many people in this country are suffering and suffering alone because the scientific community denies their experience.”