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Pharmacist whose brother died after Covid jab urges public to still take the vaccine

By Isabel Shaw

09 Apr 2021

A pharmacist whose brother died after having the AstraZeneca jab has said that she strongly believes that people should continue to have their Covid vaccines.

Speaking on BBC News yesterday (8 April), Dr Alison Astles, said that her brother — who died of a blood clot on the brain on Sunday after having the vaccination on 17 March — was ‘extraordinarily unlucky’ and that ‘more lives will be saved by people having the vaccine than not.’

‘Even given the situation our family is in, I would still strongly encourage everybody to go ahead and have the vaccine,’ she said.

‘If you’ve had one dose, go ahead and have your second. If you haven’t had your dose yet make sure that you do,’ she added.

Dr Astle’s brother, Neil, began to have headaches and nausea about a week after he had the vaccine. He was taken to the emergency department of the Royal Liverpool University Hospital on Friday night where doctors found a blood clot on his brain – he died two days later.

Dr Astles — subject lead for pharmacy at the University of Huddersfield — said the family were still waiting on the coroner’s verdict.

‘The picture is very complicated because as a pharmacist myself I understand the pharmacovigilance process and the work of the MHRA. But the human being and sister in me still feels absolutely furious and very angry that this has happened to my brother,’ she explained.

Dr Astles told the BBC that she decided to speak out after watching the press conference on the AZ vaccine which aired earlier this week (7 April).

She said that she agreed with Professor Jonathan Van-Tam’s message — that the benefits of taking the vaccine outweigh the risks — however, she also said: ‘That is not a statistic or theory for me: that is actually what’s happened to my family.’

A review by the UK drugs regulator found that by the end of March, 79 people had suffered rare blood clots after having the AZ vaccination – 19 of whom have since died.

Of the 19 who died, three were aged under 30. However, the regulator said that it is not known whether the blood clots were the cause in all of the cases.

In response, the UK government announced yesterday that all under-30s in the UK are to be offered an alternative Covid vaccine to the AZ jab as a precautionary measure.

All first-time Covid vaccine appointments on the National Booking System for patients under the age of 30 have been automatically cancelled from today.

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