Father ‘haunted' after vaccine-sceptic mother and daughter die of Covid

McAllister with his daughter Sammie-Jo Forde when she was a child (Kevin McAllister/BBC)

A mother and daughter who both refused the Covid-19 vaccine have died within weeks of each other after contracting the virus.

Sammie-Jo Forde, who was 32, died in the Ulster Hospital on the outskirts of east Belfast on Saturday. It came two weeks after her mother, 55-year-old Heather Maddern, who was being treated just two beds away on the same ward, died on 31 August.

Ms Forde’s father said neither his daughter nor his former partner was vaccinated, adding his “world” had been “shattered” by their deaths.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster’s The Nolan Show, Kevin McAllister said the events would “haunt” him for the rest of his life.

“I've lost my daughter, my best friend,” he told the radio programme.

Ms Forde, a mother-of-four who lived in Groomsport, leaves behind a husband and four children, the eldest of whom is 13 years old.

She and her mother, who Mr McAllister said were “very, very close”, lived together and both worked as domiciliary care workers, looking after elderly people in their own homes.

“They worked together, they lived together and they died together,” Mr McAllister said.

Ms Forde, who is said to have had no underlying health conditions, had been texting her father while she was being treated in hospital and told him: “Dad, Mummy’s passed away.”

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Ms Maddern’s funeral took place on 13 September and her daughter’s funeral is due to take place in Holywood, County Down, on 20 September.

“I never, never thought in my life I would bury my daughter,” Mr McAllister said.

It is understood Ms Forde died of heart complications caused by coronavirus.

“She’s a 32-year-old healthy girl and she took heart failure at the end because she just couldn't cope,” her father said.

Mr McAllister, who also has two sons, said he did not understand why the pair decided not to have the jab.

“I wouldn’t wish [on] anybody what I’m going through,” he told the BBC. “The rest of my life, it will haunt me.”

In the weeks leading up to her death, Ms Maddern shared a series of Covid-19 conspiracy theories on social media, as well as a post about nurses supposedly being threatened by employers if they did not have the jab.

Mr McAllister urged the “loads of people sitting out there and not taking” the vaccine to reconsider their decision.

“They don’t realise what they’re leaving behind,” he said, adding it is families and loved ones who are left “to pick up the pieces”.

Insisting people should get inoculated against Covid, Mr McAllister added: “I just wish people would sometimes listen to the experts, because that’s what they are: experts.”

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