Family of vaccinated grandfather-of-17 who died from Covid use obituary to encourage vaccination

Clark R. Allen, 84, was fully vaccinated but still died from Covid; his children hope his obituary will spare others, writes Sheila Flynn

Sunday 22 August 2021 14:23
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<p>Clark Allen, pictured with some of his children, died at age 84 in a Florida assisted living home after contracting Covid - despite being fully vaccinated</p>

Clark Allen, pictured with some of his children, died at age 84 in a Florida assisted living home after contracting Covid - despite being fully vaccinated

The devastated family of a vaccinated grandfather-of-17 who died after contracting Covid in a breakthrough case have begged in his obituary for others to “get vaccinated in order to prevent further death, sickness and heartbreak”.

Clark R. Allen, 84, died on 22July after becoming infected with the virus while staying in a Florida assisted living home.

“He was infected by someone who chose to not get vaccinated and his death was preventable,” his family wrote in his obituary.

Mr Allen, who had seven children, had been vaccinated in January, his daughter told The Independent – but still contracted the virus after coming into contact with an unvaccinated person.

“The whole point of being socially responsible is you’re not necessarily doing it for yourself; you’re doing it for others – whether it’s my dad or your dad or any family member you care about,” Danielle Allen said.

“When he got vaccinated ... we were a little naïve, I think. It was like, ‘I can’t believe he made it through, and I feel so relieved.’”

Her father, who had COPD so was immunocompromised, had taken all the proper steps, she said – but his severe isolation, before and after he moved into assisted living, fuelled the deterioration of his mental health during lockdown. She and her siblings were concerned about flying and visiting him given the virus’s spread.

“I would never forgive myself if I gave anybody Covid, let alone my own father,” Ms Allen, 33, told The Independent.

She said: “Whether you’re vaccinated or unvaccinated, this can still happen to the people that you love, and it can happen to you – and if we all just get vaccinated, hopefully this will go away.

“It’s the same reason we do anything that we do in the society that we exist in – it’s why we wear seatbelts ... you do not want to kill another person. And the vaccine is not a cure-all.

“We didn’t know the Delta variant was coming, but Delta changed everything. To me, I just really want people to know that you’re not invincible. Your family members are not invincible because of the vaccine. It will help them get less sick, but if people don’t get vaccinated, then the vaccine won’t do anything at all, at the end of the day.”

Mr Allen, a former journalist and advertising executive, was a “very prepared” person, she said – even leaving an outline of his obituary, which he cared more about than a funeral or a memorial. But the manner of his death prompted his daughters to “spruce it up,” she told The Independent.

By “sprucing it up, I mean put a bunch of stuff about getting vaccinated in it,” she said. “We were nervous, because we didn’t want to politicise his death ... [but] we felt it was really important to say why and how he died – because, I think there’s a lot of people who think that vaccinated people can’t die and can’t get sick, which is [often] true – and it was very hard trying not to help the anti-vaxxers but also put out there: Hey - if you’re immunocompromised, you do not deserve to die.

“And other people don’t care about immunocompromised people,” she said. “Everybody needs to get vaccinated, because we cannot forget about the people who are currently being forgotten and pushed aside.”

Mr Allen will certainly not be forgotten, kept alive in memory by his loving family – who wrote in his obituary that, “shortly before retirement, Clark began his ‘second career’ in Greenwich, CT as a baseball umpire and football official at high school and youth league levels. Clark loved all things sports and relished his ‘second career.’

“In Palm Beach County, he worked as precinct clerk, then field clerk, and supervisor in elections. Clark firmly believed in everyone’s right to vote and in the democratic process. It cannot go unmentioned how much Clark enjoyed animals. He regularly sent his children pictures of wild and tame animals he met and even named.”

He had wanted to donate his body to science, but coronavirus prevented that, his daughter Danielle told The Independent. Instead, he was cremated, and ashes were sent to each of his seven children and their own families as they sought to observe Covid protocols.

“We’ve all recognised that, in a timely manner, seeing each other is probably not going to happen because of what’s happening with Covid,” Ms Allen said, so “we’re all going to do something to commemorate him ourselves.”

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