Coroner says nothing to suggest link between flu vaccine and Co Mayo man’s death

Verdict of natural causes recorded at inquest into death of Thomas Carroll (69) from Ballyhaunis last October

A coroner has returned a verdict of death from natural causes at an inquest into the death of a retired man from Co Mayo who collapsed and died a day after getting a flu vaccine.

Thomas (Tommie) Carroll (69), of Knox Street, Ballyhaunis, said he felt unwell after the injection was administered at Hazelhill Family Practice in Ballyhaunis last October. He told friends he had a pain in his chest, a headache, had vomited and a weakness in his leg.

John Jordan, a friend of the deceased, told the inquest he called to visit Mr Carroll and found him to be very distressed. He explained to him that he had got the vaccine on Tuesday evening and began to feel unwell two hours later.

Mr Jordan said that when they phoned the Hazelhill Family Practice emergency number they were asked if they wanted an ambulance, to which Mr Carroll replied “no” as he did not want his neighbours to see him getting into an ambulance.


In a statement she read to the inquest, Dr Heather Noone said Mr Carroll attended the practice with a friend having received the flu vaccine from a nurse there on the previous day. She advised him to call the next day if he felt did not feel better or to attend A&E if his condition deteriorated.

After collecting a prescription for paracetamol, Mr Carroll was dropped home and collapsed outside his back door and died despite efforts to save him.

Cliodhna McGuire, of O’Connor Johnson Solicitors in Ballymote, representing Mr Carroll’s next of kin, said the deceased was a former smoker with high cholesterol and untreated hypertension. When asked if, in hindsight, she believed she should have referred Mr Carroll to hospital, Dr Noone said she did not.

Sinead Curran, director of human products monitoring at the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), said in a letter read to the inquest that a casual association between the vaccination and the cause of death was highly unlikely. She said the batch of medicines administered was tested prior to release for use in Ireland and met the relevant quality standards.

The medical cause of Mr Carroll’s death was outlined by Dr Fadel Bennani, consultant pathologist, as haemopericardium due to ruptured dissecting aneurysm of the thoracic aorta.

In her letter Ms Curran noted that whilst dissecting aortic aneurysm is rare, it occurs naturally in the population and is associated with a number of risk factors and is more common in men with increasing age.

At the conclusion of the hearing Mayo coroner Patrick O’Connor said he had to decide whether there was a casual connection between the administration of the flu vaccine and Mr Carroll’s death. He said that while he was conscious of the concerns of the Carroll family there was nothing in the evidence to suggest a link between the vaccine his untimely death.

He returned a verdict of death from natural causes.