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Melva Andrews died from COVID-19. Relatives suspect she contracted the virus from a nurse skeptical about being vaccinated.

Jesse Ramdeo

An 81-year-old woman afflicted with Alzheimer’s, has lost her battle against COVID-19, less than a week after her diagnosis. Relatives believe she contracted the virus allegedly from a vaccine-hesitant nurse.

Melva Andrew’s struggle with COVID-19 was documented in a Facebook post by her son, Dwight Andrews, who took to social media to express his outrage over the misfortune that had befallen her and her 78-year-old sister.

“They got it from one of the 24-hour nurses I pay for to take care of my mother. In spite of my pleading, they all initially refused to take the vaccine even though I begged them to so do.”

On Thursday, Dwight, a business owner and his two brothers grappled to come to terms with their mother’s death, speaking to Guardian Media after her funeral, Dwight recalled how his mother, with her infectious spirit, was not just a hero to him but also a stalwart in the Diamondvale community.

“My mother taught for 40 years, at Mucurapo Girls’ RC school and Newtown Girls’ RC, she has influenced a lot of young women. She never had too much pride to do anything, I remember when I was going to university abroad and things got tough, she started to sell juice in school to compensate.”

Dwight said he was particularly pained by how his mother met her demise. He said despite his best efforts, the virus breached safeguard measures through the person tasked with protecting her.

“The matter is, the person who is trained to give the care to my mother was not mandated either morally, ethically or legally to take a vaccine and therefore the likelihood of what happened happened, which was my mother contracting the disease and there she was in her most vulnerable stage and can’t fight back.”

For over five years, Melva and her sister received round the clock private medical care. Alzheimer’s had stripped the once robust matriarch of even her strength to walk, rendering her helpless.

Melva shared her sanctuary with her sister, niece and nephew a few houses away from Dwight, who had become even more meticulous with his movements when COVID-19 landed on our shores.

“I am not laying blame on any one individual, but there are some things that are obvious. I did offer to vaccinate the persons. They did not believe they wanted the vaccine. Through the process of elimination and common sense would dictate what happened, the other two people in the house do not have COVID.”

Dwight refuses to believe his mother would have been deliberately infected with the virus. Instead, he is calling for a societal change in position on COVID-19 vaccines and the continued hesitancy that looms.

“We have to have a greater level of personal responsibility, which would lead to a greater level of collective responsibility. Of course you have a right to be vaccinated, what you don’t have a right to do though, is give me the virus, so it is your rights competing against mines and we have to choose what we, as a society, are prioritizing.”

The concerns raised by Dwight come at a time when the government is set to roll out another mass vaccination programme amid lingering fear and hesitancy among segments of the population. Governments across the world have noted that vaccine hesitancy has resulted in persistently high rates of death and hospitalization.

Grief and guilt are weighing heavily on Dwight, who believes he should have acted sooner when his mother’s caregiver refused to be vaccinated. As he called on members of society to grow up and stop listening to misinformation, tears raced down his face with the memory of his mother.

“I would be nothing without her and she was the best thing that ever happened to me.”