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‘Think about more than just yourself’: B.C. Indigenous family with loved ones in ICU urges vaccination

Click to play video: 'B.C. family with two loved ones in COVID-19 ICU shares vaccination message' B.C. family with two loved ones in COVID-19 ICU shares vaccination message
An Indigenous family from Kamloops who is experiencing COVID's devastation first hand is urging people to talk to their loved ones about vaccination. Tyrone Joseph says he knows Indigenous people have long distrusted government and Western medicine, but he says the consequences of vaccine hesitancy are not worth it. Kristen Robinson reports – Sep 12, 2021

As two of their unvaccinated family members battle COVID-19 in critical care, an Indigenous father and son from Kamloops, B.C., are urging people to talk to their loved ones about the importance of vaccination.

“You have a choice not to be vaccinated,” Tyrone Joseph told Global News Sunday. “But those choices, that choice, has got implications for everyone around you.”

Joseph shared his own family’s fight with the virus in a powerful Twitter thread.

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“My sister & her adult son are both in ICU in Vancouver,” he wrote in a Sept. 11 tweet.

“Sister in induced coma, 24h dialysis, 30 y/o son can’t breathe, both unvaxxed. I get it…we [First Nations] have long been distrustful of gov’t & western medicine but FFS PLEASE GET VACCINATED!”
Tyrone Joseph’s sister in the ICU at VGH, where she is battling COVID-19. Tyrone Joseph

Joseph’s son, Marcus Myhre, recently got his first jab after initially hesitating because of “general distrust” of the vaccine and concern over the potential for long-term adverse effects.

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Once many of his acquaintances were immunized with no reported side effects, Myhre said he changed his mind.

“Just do it,” Myhre told Global News. “Think about more than just yourself.”

Read more: B.C First Nation expected to achieve ‘community immunity’ through COVID-19 vaccination efforts

Myhre said the proof of vaccination required as of Sept. 13 to dine at restaurants or attend gyms and ticketed events played a role in his decision.

But with his daughter, Brinley, turning five in October and a partner who works in health care, his primary concern was the safety of those close to him.

“The people at my girlfriend’s work who have compromised immune systems, and people that I don’t even interact with who could possibly get it from me,” he said.

“You can indirectly affect other people’s lives just by being selfish.”

Joseph and his wife, who got married under COVID-19 protocols last October, couldn’t wait to get immunized.

Joseph’s 11-year-old daughter Avery clutching her sore arm after her COVID-19 shot.
Joseph’s 11-year-old daughter Avery clutching her sore arm after her COVID-19 shot. Tyrone Joseph

Even his 11-year-old daughter, Avery, was able to get the shot since she turns 12 in late December.

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But he said his extended family, with many siblings, remains largely unvaccinated.

Click to play video: 'B.C. COVID modelling data shows province experiencing ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’' B.C. COVID modelling data shows province experiencing ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’
B.C. COVID modelling data shows province experiencing ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’ – Aug 31, 2021

The province’s messaging might not resonate with everyone, he said, and that means conversation is critical.

“There needs to be a more personal connection,” said Joseph.

“It’s really unfortunate that it takes someone you know and love and are close with to be fighting for their lives to be able to start having these discussions with your family.”

Read more: B.C. First Nation offers $1,000 cash to fully vaccinated members

His widely shared tweet ended with an apology: “If your loved one can’t get an ICU bed in VGH or Mount Saint Joseph, I’m sorry. I really am. I’ll try. I’ll plead with any remaining vax hesitant family members.”

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