Mrs Bowie vaccine injured
Mrs Bowie, pictured with Nathan 22 and Michael 19 on their last holiday before she had the vaccine
Like tens of thousands of Brits, Clare Bowie's life was turned upside down during the Covid pandemic.

But the 56-year-old from Dumbarton near Glasgow wasn't left struggling for her life from the virus.

Instead, she was paralysed from the chest down after getting the AstraZeneca Covid vaccination in April 2021.

The mum-of-three worked as an admin officer at a submarine base for the ministry of defence for 37 years before she was forced to medically retire due to losing mobility in her hands.

However, Mrs Bowie's frustration lies with the 'woefully inadequate' Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme, which doesn't cover the cost of her mortgage or the cost of modifying her home for her level of disability.

Mrs Bowie was given the AstraZeneca vaccine on April 17, 2021, then two weeks later she was hospitalised on May 2, at Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley with a mystery spreading paralysis.

'I was fully paralysed to chest level and it was spreading. I started to lose the ability to breathe and speak. It was scary,' Mrs Bowie recalls.

Initially doctors thought Mrs Bowie had Guillian-Barre syndrome, which is a very rare and serious condition which affects the nerves that has been linked to complications with the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

But after six MRI scans at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow, doctors diagnosed acute disseminated encephalitis complicated by transverse myelitis (ADEM), a condition that causes inflammation in the brain and spinal cord.

It can follow a minor infection and it is the result of the immune system going haywire and attacking the nerves.

Doctors did everything they could to control the swelling. Eventually a combination of steroids and other drugs helped halt the deterioration.

But she still couldn't move anything from the chest down for three months.

Mrs Bowie was paralysed from the chest down for three months until she was offered rituximab, an immune dampening medication that's shown promise in tackling severe Covid infections.

In July 2021, still at the Glasgow hospital, Mrs Bowie recalls a consultant coming round to her hospital bed with a student, who told her to try wiggle her toes.

'He said to try wiggle my toes, and my left toe moved. I thought it was a spasm, but then I tried again and it moved. I hadn't moved a muscle since May 2 and by July 17, I could move my left big toe and my left foot,' she said.

But, due to muscle wastage, it was a long and slow journey to recovery.

After spending months in rehab being moved by hoist from September 2021, she eventually built up enough strength to stand with a zimmer frame and transfer to a wheelchair and was discharged in December 2021.

'I do physio every day, so I can walk. But it's probably maybe about 20 steps. But it's actually enough to get me from my bed to the toilet and to my living room chair. I can get to there. So that's good, it makes a huge difference,' she said.

'If I am being perfectly honest I am just grateful to be alive. It was so frightening in the beginning, because nobody knew what was happening to me,' she added.

Medics never had any doubts that her paralysis was caused by the vaccine.

Mrs Bowie, mother to Nathan 22, Cecilia 21 and Michael 19, recalls the consultant introducing himself and told her straight away: 'I think it is Guillian-Barre syndrome and it's because you took the vaccine.'

'I actually argued with him,' Mrs Bowie said. 'I couldn't really believe it could be the vaccine.

'He said it is 100 per cent the vaccine. He was absolutely definite on it and I am very grateful for that because I am assuming that's why I got the vaccine damage payment.'

The Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme, which has been around since the 1970s, offers people, or their families, a tax-free sum of £120,000.

Established back in 1979, the policy covers covers an array of vaccines recommended by the Government, including measles, mumps and rubella and is meant to reassure people that, in the unlikely event something goes wrong, the state will provide support.

Mrs Bowie's husband, Dave, 55, applied for the scheme in October 2021, while she was still in hospital. But the money wasn't in her account until February 2023, a year and half after applying.
dave bowie
Dave Bowie, 55, Pictured, who was previously in the Royal Navy, now works as an administrator for the ministry of defense and cares for Mrs Bowie
'It did take a while and you don't really hear from them,' she said.
But after going through the process of applying to the government scheme, Mrs Bowie says it is 'woefully inadequate' and 'traumatic for people'.

She said: 'You think £120,000 is massive. I have been in the civil service all my life, I wasn't used to that money. But the bottom line is it doesn't clear your mortgage and modify your house.'

In 1979, the scheme handed out £10,000 to people injured or killed by vaccines, this amount has been raised several time, but the current level (£120,000) was set in 2007.

But according to the Bank of England inflation calculator that is the equivalent of £195,183 meaning people are now losing out on about £75,000 in cash.

She said: 'They go right back through your medical records. I've spoken to people who have been denied it because 10 years ago something happened to them. But I have been lucky and been a very healthy person so they can't pinpoint it on anything else.'

Strict eligibility criteria means those affected must either have been killed or be left 60 per cent disabled due to a vaccine.

This means a person theoretically judged to be only 59 per cent disabled will not get a penny.

The extent of a person's disability is based on an assessment by a doctor and can include both physical disablement, such as the loss of a limb, or mental disablement, such as a decline cognitive function.

It also means there is no escalation of the sum received.

So, for example, someone who is completely paralysed by a vaccine would receive the same £120,000 as someone who lost a leg.

Going blind or deaf counts as being 100 per cent disabled.

'People that have lost somebody, they get the same amount as I get and if you are 59 per cent disabled you get nothing. That horrifies me,' she added.

Mrs Bowie admits that her condition is 'quite extreme' and says she has never had a medical professional doubt that it was the vaccine that caused it and has only received support.

But she worries for those who are struggling to prove that the vaccine could be to blame for their disability.

'Can you image what it is like for people whose heart suddenly doesn't work properly, or every time they stand up they get dizzy, nobody believes them. Their lives have completely changed and they are getting nothing, not even basic NHS support,' she said.

'The scheme is so unfair. They will tell someone they are not disabled enough, but the person could have been a marathon runner and now be unable to walk to the shops. '

'Most people have mortgages at a few hundred thousand, so this figure doesn't come anywhere close to clearing a normal mortgage.'

Mr Bowie, who was previously in the Royal Navy, now works as an administrator for the Ministry of Defence and cares for Mrs Bowie.