Jacob Clynick received his second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a Walgreens in Zilwaukee, Saginaw County, Central Michigan on June 13. According to Tammy Burages, Clynick's aunt, the only side effects he initially experiences were fatigue and fever. These are supposedly normal.
But on June 15, Clynick started complaining about a stomachache. Burages said the family considered the stomachache to not be severe enough to warrant medical attention. Clynick died sometime after he went to bed. (Related: Texas woman with severe coronavirus dies in hospital after CATCHING FIRE.)
"He passed away in the middle of the night at home," said Burages.
Clynick, who lived in Zilwaukee, had just completed eighth grade. According to his family, he was very healthy and had no known underlying medical conditions. He was looking forward to starting classes in the fall as a high school freshman at Carrollton High School.
His family remembers him as a kind boy who loved to go camping with his father and was brave enough to stand up to bullies in school. Burages said he was even voted "Most likely to become president of the United States."
"He loved to tell corny dad jokes and always had plenty of them to hand out," said Burages. "He found the funny side of every situation and the world will be a little less fun without him in it."
In a joint statement, the medical director and the health officer of the Saginaw County Health Department said they are conducting an investigation to figure out if there is a connection between Clynick's sudden death and the vaccination. This investigation will be headed by the Michigan Institute of Forensic Science and Medicine (MIFSM), in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
"Meanwhile, the health department continues to encourage families to speak with their physicians to weigh their own risks and benefits of vaccination," read the joint statement.
"We can verify that we are managing the investigation, and that's the extent of what I can share," said MIFSM Director of Operations Randy Pfau. The institute's other doctors said they are regularly communicating with the CDC regarding the case.
"It's still an ongoing investigation," said Pfau. "I know the doctors are working on this case as a priority." He added that the full investigation could take up to three to five months to complete.
According to Becky Naessens, funeral director for Deisler Funeral Homes, no cause of death was listed on Clynick's death certificate because there isn't one yet.
"Depending on the county and what labs … medical examiners use, it could be weeks or it could be months, quite honestly," she said, before any information about his death was released to the public.
Clynick's funeral was only held on June 26. This is nearly two weeks after his death and just three days after a CDC advisory committee acknowledged a "likely association" between the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines and a risk of heart problems in young adults and adolescents like Clynick.
Unfortunately for Clynick's family, his cause of death is still unclear. An autopsy was performed, but its conclusions have not yet been revealed. Burages said she hopes the investigators will at least find some clues, but she is losing hope.
"This is one of those things that I suspect they're never going to really be able to say, 'Oh it was the shot,' or 'It wasn't the shot,'" she said.
"There must be something that makes kids more susceptible to having a serious heart reaction, and I think Jacob was one of those kinds. So whatever that serious thing was, whatever the underlying health issue was, is something maybe that the autopsy will tell us," added Burages. She lamented the fact that the investigation will take months and a lot more kids like Clynick will get vaccinated before its results are revealed to the public.
All Burages hopes now is that, one day, she and the rest of Clynick's family will have answers that might be of some use for other families who are trying to decide whether or not to vaccinate their children.
"If there are factors that can make it riskier for some kids [to get a vaccine], I hope health officials can figure out what those are," she said.