Family of Vancouver woman in induced coma due to COVID-19 urges skeptics to get vaccinated
The family of a Vancouver woman who’s been hospitalized with COVID-19 is speaking out about the importance of getting vaccinated.
Anna Joseph has been in an induced coma and breathing with the help of a ventilator in Vancouver General Hospital’s intensive care unit for nearly a week.
It’s unclear how the woman in her mid-50s contracted the coronavirus. Her adult son was also infected and spent two days in the ICU before being released to recover at home.
Neither of them have been vaccinated, which came as a surprise to Anna’s brother, Tyrone.
“In my household, we were anxiously awaiting approval for the vaccines,” he tells CTV News Vancouver. “I just assumed my extended family had similar thoughts. It turns out, none of them did.”
Joseph says only a handful of his relatives are immunized against COVID-19. He attributes the hesitancy to misinformation about vaccine safety that has circulated online.
“I got a lot of misinformation from Facebook,” says Sheldon Joseph, Tyrone’s older brother.
“I had reason to believe getting vaccinated was going to do me a lot more harm than good.”
After learning most of them had not been vaccinated, Tyrone took it upon himself to discuss vaccine safety with as many relatives as possible. In doing so, he convinced his 28-year-old son, along with Sheldon – a self-proclaimed anti-vaxxer – to get the jab.
“Having a conversation with (Tyrone) and seeing my sister in the hospital prompted me to change my mind,” Sheldon explains. “So, I got vaccinated two days ago.”
He says he has since convinced his two children, 31 and 34, to get their first doses as well.
“It’s really unfortunate it takes someone close to you to be affected, to really start reconsidering the information you’ve received that might have led you to hesitancy,” says Tyrone.
In addition to online misinformation, Joseph – who is Indigenous – believes another factor causing his family to be hesitant about getting vaccinated is distrust in the provincial government. A 2020 report, titled In Plain Sight, found widespread racism against Indigenous people in the B.C. health-care system.
In a tweet that’s been viewed thousands of times, Joseph is now sharing his family’s ordeal, in hopes other Indigenous families will look past any skepticism of the health-care system and seriously consider getting vaccinated.
“It’s a hard pill to swallow, but do not put your family at risk. I changed my mind. It was just like getting the flu shot,” says Sheldon.
As for his sister, Tyrone says doctors are hopeful she’ll recover, but are not providing the family with a timeline.
“They expect it to be a long haul,” he says.