‘I was a bit anxious’: Young people at Victoria vaccine clinic explain why they waited

'I was a bit anxious': Young people at Victoria vaccine clinic explain why they waited

It was a moment one month and a lot of heartache in the making.

Twenty-seven-year-old Blaine Peters received his second dose of COVID-19 vaccine at the Victoria Friendship Centre vaccine clinic Thursday, four weeks after receiving his first. He had been reluctant to get vaccinated, but everything changed when his mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“July 27th I found a lump in my left breast, August 2nd I was diagnosed with breast cancer, August 25th I had surgery to remove it and the day after that he got his first shot,” said Peters’ mom Cristina Armstrong. “He didn’t want to take a chance on me getting any sicker than I did.”

For 21-year-old Skylar Maharaj, who was also at the vaccine clinic with her mom, it was a fear of needles that kept her away until now.

“I just have health anxiety so I was a bit freaked out about it,” she said. “I was a bit anxious at first but I think it’s a good idea to get your shots done.”

Seeing more people, especially young people, getting vaccinated is exactly what one grieving Victoria father is hoping for.

Bill Nieuwenhuis told the Times Colonist newspaper that his 29-year-old daughter Juliana, who wasn’t vaccinated, died September 13 after contracting COVID-19. A photographer and florist with a bright smile, Juliana had received a kidney transplant as a teen and was nervous about possible side effects from the vaccine. Her father hopes her story will encourage those still hesitant to get the shot.

“You might not be able to comprehend the pain and suffering we as a family are going through, but you can take steps with a vaccination to make sure the chances of this happening to you or your family are dramatically reduced,” he said.

While there is work to do, young adults do seem to be heeding the vaccination message.

READ MORE: B.C. reports 832 new COVID-19 cases, five deaths

New BCCDC data shows a 99 per cent first dose rate for 18 to 29 year olds in Vancouver Coastal Health. While it’s a number that seems too high to be true, the Ministry of Health insists it is accurate. In Island Health it’s an 87 per cent first-dose vaccination rate for 18- to 29-year-olds, around the provincial average and well above Northern Health, which is only 71 percent for that age group.

And if you compare age groups in Island Health, those in their 20s have higher first-dose vaccination rates than those in the 30-39 and 40-49 age groups.

For Blaine Peters, now fully vaccinated, keeping people like his mom safe was the motivation he needed.

“Just keep the world a better place and I’m proud of that,” he said.


April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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