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A 14-year-old boy died three weeks after his Pfizer Covid 19 vaccine, an inquest has heard.

The death was described by Co Mayo coroner Pat O’Connor as an issue is of “significant public concern”.

Family members held hands as the inquest into the death of Joseph McGinty, of Achill Island, got underway at Castlebar Courthouse.

A request for safety information from Covid-19 vaccine manufacturer Pfizer is to form part of the “considerable investigation” to be conducted into the death.

The teenager, a second-year school student, was vaccinated with the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine on August 20, 2021. He died at home just over three weeks later on September 13, 2021.

The teenager suffered significant medical deterioration following the administration of the vaccine, the inquest heard. He was hospitalised on September 1 and stayed overnight at Mayo University Hospital before he was discharged the following day. He attended hospital again on September 8 for review.

“The circumstances of Joseph McGinty’s death is that Covid vaccination was administered to him; that there appears to have been either a reaction or a significant change in his medical circumstances following the administration of the vaccine and that subsequently, unfortunately, Master McGinty died,” coroner Pat O’Connor said.

Patricia McGinty formally identified her son’s remains on the day of his death but “has very little recollection of the morning in question”, barrister for the family Rita Kilroy of Lavelle Bourke Solicitors told the court.

The inquest requires “considerable investigation into the vaccine, the effects of the vaccine and also the effects of the vaccine on Master McGinty”, the coroner said.

As a result, the case could take “months or possibly years to conclude its findings”, Mr O’Connor said.

Ms Kilroy made an application on behalf of the family for legal aid.

“We would perceive there to be a concern for public health and safety and potential for recurrence in two circumstances,” Ms Kilroy told the court.

“The deceased’s death occurred on September 13, 2021. He had received the Covid vaccine on August 20, 2021 and in those circumstances, coroner, we would perceive that there would be a concern arising there that we would require the safety guidelines and so forth relating to that Pfizer vaccine to be available to the coroner and for there to be an inquiry into the circumstances in that regard.”

The coroner clarified that legal aid in such circumstances is significantly different from legal aid as it is administered in the district or higher courts.

“The application is made to the coroner, who then must decide whether the criteria are complied with. It is not the coroner that grants legal aid, but the legal aid board,” Mr O’Connor said.

Ms Kilroy applied to adjourn all other matters of the inquest, including the reading into evidence of the cause of death, pending the outcome of the legal aid application.

The coroner granted certification for the request for legal aid and adjourned the inquest for further mention at Swinford Courthouse, Co Mayo on December 20.