Lincs Police chief Paul Timmins who developed blood clots after covid-19 vaccination urges everyone to get jab
A county police chief who developed blood clots after a covid-19 vaccination has had his second jab and is urging everyone to do the same.
Chief Superintendent Paul Timmins, who lives near Bourne, was found to have a clot in his leg and lung in the weeks following his first AstraZeneca shot in late March.
Paul, who has been chief inspector of Lincolnshire Police for almost 10 years, returned to duty in a reduced capacity this week after six weeks off and hopes to be back full-time by mid-August.
Yet having lost both grandmothers to the virus late last year, he had no hesitation in having his second dose.
"We owe it to those who gave their lives to it because they didn't have access to the vaccines," he said.
"We are now in a privileged position to have these vaccines which have saved thousands and thousands of lives.
"I have had a bad experience, but the risk of getting Covid and getting poorly from that is far greater.
"I'm a one-in-200,000 chance - it's such a low, low risk."
Paul started noticing changes to his health while exercising about two weeks after his first vaccination.
He was a regular runner used to half-marathons and 24-hour races, but soon found himself gasping for breath climbing the stairs.
"I took a week off running around my vaccination, but when I went out again my chest felt really tight and it was like breathing through one lung," he explained.
"I went from running as I used to, to not being able to get out of the village in two weeks."
He was diagnosed with asthma after a visit to the doctor, but found work and exercise increasingly difficult.
"It's likely that was the start of the clot in my lung," Mr Timmins added.
"I went on for another eight weeks before my leg really started to swell. After another four days I phoned the hospital and then it was diagnosed."
Paul regrets not acting sooner and pushing for an earlier scan, but described the response and care he received at Peterborough City Hospital as 'brilliant'.
"When I was sat in hospital and being told not to move because the clot might move to my heart, I was worried then," he recalled.
"The consultants said 'you are 45, you don't drink, you don't smoke, you have no family history of debilitating illness and you are fit so you shouldn't be getting clots'.
"They can't say for sure if it has caused it. It is possibly the vaccine but can't be medically proved.
"I'm unlucky being one of the very few who potentially had an adverse reaction. It's potentially a life-changer, but I'm really fortunate I didn't have a heart attack."
Up to June 16, medicines regulator, the MHRA, had received reports of 401 cases of a specific type of blood clot, accompanied by a low platelet count.
This works out at less than 15 cases per million doses, although Paul didn't have this specfic type of clot.
He is on blood thinning medication to break down the clots and is 'definitely coming out the other side'.
"I have always been an active person so it has been challenging, but I would do the same thing again in a heartbeat," he said.
"You have more chance of being run over walking along the pavement than getting a blood clot from a vaccine.
"As a police officer I'm used to making risk-based decisions and this was an easy one to make."
And then there was the personal motivation.
The Timmins family know first-hand the terrible impact Covid-19 can have without the aid of vaccines.
His maternal grandmother contracted the virus in the care home she lived in, while his other grandmother caught it in hospital after being admitted for a fall.
Both died within 10 days of the other, either side of Christmas.
"It was a very difficult time," he said.
"We couldn't see them or be with them when they died. I suppose my sadness was that I didn't want them to think we'd forgotten them. No-one should die alone.
"It was very tough to take for the family and what happened to me then brought that all back."
And alongside the low risk, are the benefits of immunisation.
According to recent Government statistics, the vaccine has already saved the lives of 10,000 in England.
Getting a second vaccination also significantly reduces the risk of serious illness, particularly among older age groups.
Among those aged 40 or over, two doses has led to a more than 95% reduction in deaths, with an 80 per cent reduction after one jab.
And among the 18-29 and 30 to 39 year groups, having both doses of the vaccine reduces the chance of catching and passing on infection by more than 85 per cent, compared to 60 to 70 per cent after one dose.
"Of those who have been hospitalised with the delta variant, almost all of them haven't had the vaccine," said Paul.
"This tends to get forgotten a little, but it's not just about protecting yourself, it protects those people around you as well."