Blenheim couple battles misinformation to receive first Covid jab

After plenty of discussion, battling misinformation and weighing up their future, partners Sam Foley and Joe Timms have finally got their first Covid-19 vaccination.

The Blenheim residents got jabbed in the same week the Marlborough region crossed the 90 per cent mark for first jabs administered to eligible residents.

“We know second vaccinations will increase considerably this week. We’ve got thousands booked,” Beth Tester, the chief executive of Marlborough Primary Health, said.

Regionally, Marlborough residents have routinely found themselves at or near the top of the national vaccine leaderboard, but on a personal level, it hasn’t been the easiest choice.

Timms in particular took a bit of convincing.

“My sister's over in Australia and I wanted to see her, and I don't really want to go back into another lockdown,” he said.

Foley is expecting their second child and news from her obstetrician is what drew the line in the sand.

“She did mention that they're looking at making it so you can't visit hospitals if you're not vaccinated. So that was a big turning point for us because I want him there when I give birth,” she said.

Their young son, Lucas, is also unable to be immunised as no vaccine has yet been approved for children under 12.

Blenheim resident Sam Foley with her young son.

The Nelson-Marlborough District Health Board has only recorded 49 cases of Covid-19 since the pandemic arrived on our shores in February 2020. The last active case was officially considered recovered in May 2020; almost a year and a half ago.

Despite the gap, the light industrial suburb of Riverlands, which sits just outside of central Blenheim, holds the lofty title of one of the only suburbs in Aotearoa with a 100 per cent full vaccination rate.

The others, Port Nelson and the Ōtāhuhu Industrial area, both have less than 50 residents, whereas the Blenheim suburb boasts 444 fully immunised residents.

A map of fully vaccinated suburbs.

“I think that's wonderful. We'll take any success we can get, and we celebrate so it’s great. Well done to the Riverlands community,” Tester said. 

Bianca Zucchetto owns The Karaka Kitchen in Riverlands, and feels much safer knowing everyone’s jabbed.

“It's a great area and we have lots of people coming in and supporting us, and knowing we're highly vaccinated here – it’s great.”

But not everyone’s been so warm to the vaccine, according to Foley.

“I'm on mum's [Facebook] pages and there's a lot of judgement for mums that get [the vaccine] and mums that don't get it.”

Her message to those who are hesitant: reach out to a medical professional you trust and get all of your questions answered.

“I feel much safer now, and with [Covid-19] possibly coming to the South Island... at least if it does, we're protected.”


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