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'Much loved character' (69) died a day after flu vaccine
Tommie Carroll felt unwell two hours after Influvac Tetra
A 69 year old man became unwell two hours after receiving the flu vaccine and died the following day, an inquest heard. Tommie Carroll of Knox Street, Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo received the Influvac Tetra vaccine from a nurse at his local GP surgery on October 4 2022. He suffered weakness in his legs, chest pain and excessive thirst and had to ‘crawl up to bed’ that night. At 3am he became acutely unwell and was vomiting, an inquest at Swinford Courthouse, Co Mayo heard.
On October 5 2022 Mr Carroll sent a text to his friends, John and Eileen Jordan telling them he felt unwell after receiving the vaccine the previous day.
“He said to tell my elderly mother not to get the flu vaccine and he would never take another vaccine again,” Eileen Jordan said.
The Jordan’s wanted to call emergency services but Mr Carroll said he didn’t want the neighbours to see him taken off in an ambulance. However, he had packed a bag for hospital. John Jordan phoned the doctor and said he needed an urgent appointment. Leaving the house, Mr Carroll said to him that maybe he would die.
“He said goodbye to the house and goodbye to the cat,” Mr Jordan said.
“He said he had crawled up to bed the night before. He had vomited but he couldn’t eat, he was very thirsty.” Mr Jordan said.
At Hazelhill Family Surgery in Ballyhaunis Dr Heather Noone conducted a check-up and sent Mr Carroll home with instructions to go to Accident and Emergency if his condition deteriorated.
“She said she thought he’d had a reaction to the flu vaccine. He got it every year and he was fine,” Mr Jordan said. He dropped Mr Jordan home shortly after 5pm.
Eileen Jordan arrived to check on Mr Carroll at 5.40pm. She helped Mr Carroll to the back step where he was ‘violently ill.’
“He vomited at the back step and then he fell,” she said.
Mrs Jordan ran to the street for help. Paramedics arrived at 6.13pm but Mr Carroll was pronounced dead.
The inquest, before Coroner Pat O’Connor, heard that the man was ‘no stranger to vaccines’ and had taken a total of 32 vaccines in his lifetime. Solicitor for the family Cliodhna McGuire of O’Connor Johnson asked Dr Heather Noone why Mr Carroll had to sign a consent form for this particular vaccine. The doctor said it was standard protocol because the vaccine was administered by a nurse.
Ms McGuire asked what the side effects of the Influvac Tetra were and Dr Noone replied generalised aches and pains, feeling tired and headache.
“It’s like having the flu,” Dr Noone said.
Asked if vomiting and chest pains were side effects, Dr Noone said she did not know.
Ms McGuire put it to the doctor that vomiting, nausea and chest pain were not side effects of the vaccine.
“I don’t know enough about the side effects to comment,” Dr Noone said.
“I did a comprehensive exam and there was nothing to suggest he was medically unwell. He was able to get up and speak to me,” Dr Noone said.
The court heard Mr Carroll had been diagnosed with hypertension in 2019, had high cholesterol and was an ex-smoker.
Ms Maguire put it to the doctor that Mr Carroll had consistently high blood pressure and on October 5 2022 his blood pressure was low.
“His blood pressure wasn’t low,” Dr Noone said.
“We are talking about a patient with uncontrolled hypertension that looked extremely unwell. Did he not warrant further investigation?” Ms Maguire asked the doctor.
“He was able to talk to me,” Dr Noone said.
“You didn’t know that the Jordan’s were extremely concerned for him and the appointment requested was urgent?” Ms Maguire said.
“They were there sitting normally waiting to be called,” Dr Noone said.
In his post-mortem Pathologist Dr Fadel Khalil Bennani found evidence of hemopericardium, a condition that causes pressure to build due to the accumulation of blood in the pericardial sac.
Dr Bannani said Mr Carroll suffered a massive haemorrhage due to a tear in the aortic wall and gave the cause of death as ruptured thoracic aortic aneurysm. He said the death was sudden and unexpected and while hypertension might have been a contributory factor it was not the cause.
Coroner Pat O’Connor requested the attendance of the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) at the inquest. He received a letter noting that Ann Tobin, HPRA Pharmacovigilance Manager would be abroad on the inquest date. In the letter, the HPRA noted that a link between the flu vaccine and the man’s death was ‘highly unlikely’ and that a ruptured thoracic aorta was not an expected reaction to the flu vaccine.
Returning a verdict of death due to natural causes, the Coroner said Mr Carroll was a ‘much loved character that will be greatly missed.’
“There is nothing in evidence that there was a connection between the vaccine and his untimely death,” the Coroner said.
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