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Sunday 3 December 2023 Dublin: 0°C

Debunked: No, a 22-year-old Wexford woman did not die because she received a Covid-19 vaccine

The claim has been shared widely online.

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POSTS SHARED ONLINE have claimed that a 22-year-old woman who passed away in March died from receiving a Covid-19 vaccine. 

Posts and images online have claimed that Nicole Cahill from Wexford died as a result of receiving a Covid-19 vaccine, with some posts using her image and an image of her vaccine card. 

However, these posts are incorrect. 

Ms Cahill’s sister said today that her sister did not die due to having received a Covid-19 vaccine.

Deb Cahill called on anti-vaccination groups to stop using photographs of her recently-deceased sister alongside false claims on social media.

She said the campaign means her sister Nicole, who died in March, is not being remembered as the “lovely bubbly person she was”. She said the situation has seen her parents called “murderers” because their daughter received the Covid-19 vaccine.

Deb told RTE’s Liveline programme today that in the days after Nicole’s sudden death, photos began circulating online of the 22-year-old and her vaccine card.

“People were trying to say like ‘Oh no, another young life gone from the vaccine’, which wasn’t the case,” she told broadcaster Joe Duffy. “It wasn’t really fair on the family because we were obviously still grieving, because it was still raw.”

She said her sister had underlying illnesses. 

The Irish Times reports that Nicole had encephalitis as a child and later suffered a stroke after going into a coma. “Her system was screwed from that and she had other underlying conditions,” Deb Cahill told the newspaper. “She was always in and out of hospital. She was in rehabilitation to learn how to be more independent.”

The Cahill family have contacted a number of people who were posting about Nicole’s death and linking it to the Covid-19 vaccine, and while “most” apologised and removed the posts, others rejected the request,said Deb.

As recently as this afternoon, The Journal saw a post on Facebook claiming that Nicole had died due to the vaccine.

Deb Cahill said a complaint was made to gardaí and also to Twitter in relation to the posts. 

While this brought a reprieve for a period, the family were contacted last Friday about posts about Nicole’s death appearing online again. 

“[T]hey’re shared all over social media and it’s not a nice thing to see even though it’s nearly six months. It’s still raw,” said Deb.

She added: “Nicole should be remembered for the lovely person she was, but instead her face is splashed across social media in an anti-vaccine campaign.”

The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) said in July that it has received reports of 76 people who were known to have been vaccinated and who subsequently passed away. 

However, it said “it can be expected that fatalities due to progression of underlying disease or natural causes will continue to occur, including following vaccination. This does not mean that the vaccine caused the deaths.”

Speaking at this evening’s NPHET briefing, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said there is “a lot of dangerous misinformation in relation to vaccination” on social media and encouraged people to seek information from reputable sources like the HSE and their GP. 

The Journal’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here. For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here. You can read about the team of editors and reporters who work on the factchecks here

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