AstraZeneca vaccine: Family of first named blood clot victim insist 'take the jab'

The family of the UK’s first named blood clot victim insist everyone should still take the AstraZeneca jab for the good of the population.

Neil Astles, 59, died on Sunday, with the family told it is almost certain he died of blood clots possibly related to the AstraZeneca vaccine he received.

Cases of blood clots among those who've had the AstraZeneca jab are very rare - around four in every million - and Neil's sister, Alison, said he is "extraordinarily unlucky".

After health authorities announced they will be recommending other vaccines for those under-30 while potential links are investigated, Neil’s family wanted to send a clear message.

  • Video report by ITV News Science Editor Tom Clarke

“We are still shocked at the loss of our brother… from my own perspective, I sat and watched [England’s deputy chief medical officer] Professor Van Tam yesterday on the news talking about the clot risk and the benefits to population of having the vaccine,” Alison told ITV News.

“And as I sat there and watched him, it occurred to me that my family and me were in a particularly unique situation to give a very strong public health message about this.

“Because it’s not statistics to us, it’s an actual, loved human being who died.

  • ITV News Science Editor Tom Clarke speaks about the progress of the vaccine rollout:

“At the same time, I still believe that for the vast, vast majority of us the safest way forward is for people to have the vaccine, because that in the end will save the most lives.”

Neil went for his first shot of the vaccine on March 17 and started to feel sick and suffer a headache around a week to ten days later.

Once his vision started to deteriorate, his brother took him to A&E on Friday, from where he was transferred to intensive care.

On Sunday afternoon, he was taken off a ventilator and died with his family around him.

“I totally get the feeling and believe me I feel extraordinarily angry about the unfairness of what’s happened to my brother,” she said, adding consultants said they are “99.9% sure” it was a case that could be linked to the vaccine.

“But at the same time, I recognise he has been extraordinarily unlucky. This is a deeply rare event and he’s just been very unlucky.

“For the good of the population, we will save more lives if people do go ahead and have the vaccine.”

She described her brother as a “gentle man,” who was very loved by his family around him.

While the family has been left devastated by their sudden and unexpected loss, Alison says their message will remain the same.

“The sister in me is absolutely heartbroken that we have come on the wrong side of those statistics,” she said.

“But that doesn’t change what’s the important message to get out here, which is for the majority of people having the vaccine will save more lives than not having it.

“The risk of anything going wrong is very, very rare.”

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