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Garry says he was 'unlucky' he developed blood clots after AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine shot

A 7.30 report by Ellen Coulter

(ABC News: Owain Stia-James)

Garry and Mary Richardson can often be found outdoors around the beaches and bushland of their east coast Tasmanian home. But the couple's walks are shorter and fewer at the moment.

Mr Richardson has spent the past eight weeks recovering from blood clots in his liver and lungs. He developed severe abdominal pain seven days after his first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. 

"The pain was just so bad that I said to Mary, 'I've got to go to the hospital,'" he said.

Mr Richardson is 70 and had only ever been in hospital for day procedures. He was flown from his local district hospital to Launceston, where he went into the emergency department. 

"And it took around five days, could have been six, for them to work out that I probably had the blood clots from the AstraZeneca."

Mr Richardson is one of 64 Australians who've had confirmed or probable thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) likely linked to their AstraZeneca vaccine. 

Two people have died after developing the blood clotting side-effect. 

Mr Richardson knows his case is very rare. More than 4.2 million doses of AstraZeneca have been administered in Australia. 

"I definitely decided I was unlucky, because one of my friends said, 'You could have won [the lotto], you've got the same odds,'" Mr Richardson said.

Mr Richardson was in hospital for 16 days, and he's still on blood thinning medication and has weekly blood tests. 

"For the last month I've been getting stronger every day, but I still can't do what I could do before it happened," he said.

He's happy with the care and treatment he received, but Mr Richardson doesn't know what the long-term effects of his blood clotting will be. His experience hasn't turned him against vaccinations in general. 

"I believe that we've got to achieve herd immunity, but it's up to every person to make up their own mind," he said. "And I think people make up their mind a lot quicker if the government gave away AstraZeneca completely and just concentrate on Pfizer."

Because of his reaction to AstraZeneca, Mr Richardson needs to receive Pfizer for his second dose. His wife had her first dose of AstraZeneca at the same time, and will go back for her second. 

"I was OK the first time, so I'm assuming I shall be OK the second time," Ms Richardson said. "It's important to do it for the greater good. But I think that we've got to be very careful in telling people to do things for the greater good if there is a risk involved. And so it depends how essential it is that they take that risk. If there are other options, then perhaps we should be working towards those."

For Mr Richardson, it's a matter of individual choice based on the best advice. 

"I think people have got to make their own decision and talk to their doctors," he said.

Read the full story here.

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