Taxi driver’s Covid experience inspires vaccine change of heart

Published Wednesday 25 August 2021 at 8:53

A Blackburn man who spent 14 days in intensive care battling Covid-19 says he wishes he’d got vaccinated earlier.

55 year old Shokat Patel from Audley only had one dose of the Covid vaccine before falling ill and becoming hospitalised for two weeks in July.

When his age group were first invited for vaccination, Shokat wanted to do a bit more of his own research and wait a little longer before having his jab.

In May, he and his wife Akelha decided to have their first vaccinations, and went to their appointments at the same time.

Unfortunately, delaying getting protection from the vaccine led to a bitter battle with Covid and a hospital stay for the father of four.

Shokat, who works as a Blackburn taxi driver and has no underlying health conditions, said:

I was due for my second vaccine a few days after I was admitted to hospital. If only I’d gone for vaccination earlier and had both doses, I might never have been so ill.

Akelha Patel added:

Shokat’s always looked after himself so to see him so ill with Covid was a real shock, especially as we’ve all been so careful during the pandemic.

At one time me and the family wondered if he would make it. It was really scary.

Almost six weeks after being discharged from hospital, Shokat is still not fully recovered and is having follow-up appointments to check on his lungs and heart.

Shokat said:

I’m making progress now, but when I first came home, I struggled with my breathing, was so weak and couldn’t walk far. For someone who’s normally fit and healthy, it was really scary.

I feel lucky to have made it home and to be recovering.

Shokat was a patient in Royal Blackburn Hospital at the same time as unvaccinated Brian Lynch, who tragically lost his life to Covid last month.

Now Shokat wants to use his Covid experience to encourage other people who have been unsure of getting vaccinated to come forward for their jabs.

He’s waiting until he’s better to have his second jab; Akelha already had hers while Shokat was ill in intensive care.

Prof Dominic Harrison, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s Director of Public Health, said:

Having one dose will give you some protection against Covid, but having both doses will guarantee a higher rate of protection. The Pfizer vaccine has been proven to be 96% effective against hospitalisation after two doses, and the Astra Zeneca vaccine 92%.

Although you could still catch Covid and have mild to moderate symptoms, fully vaccinated people are far less likely to get Covid and are even more unlikely to be seriously ill, to need hospital treatment, or to die from it.

Vaccinated people are also less likely to pass the virus to others.

It’s easy to get vaccinated in Blackburn with Darwen, with lots of convenient pop-up vaccine sites as well as the main vaccination centre in Blackburn Cathedral.

Vaccine sites are open at weekends and into the evening, to help residents fit going for their jabs around work and family commitments.

And, free bus travel and car parking is available to anyone going to get vaccinated.

Jayne Scattergood, NHS Lancashire & South Cumbria Covid-19 Vaccine Director, added:

We are inviting everyone over 18 to bring their second dose appointment forward to eight weeks to ensure everyone has the strongest possible protection as soon as possible.

The Covid vaccines are two-dose vaccines so you must have both doses for maximum benefit and protection to you, your friends and your family.

Get the details of vaccination sites in Blackburn with Darwen and opening times at

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