Get the jab for disabled tamariki, says māmā of disabled teenager

By Tamati Tiananga

A Māori māmā with an 18-year-old son, who suffers from a neuromuscular condition and is non-verbal and wheelchair-bound, says the government made the right choice to require mandatory vaccinations for workers in the health and disability sector.

“They have been working tirelessly behind the scenes due to this mandate about how they will incorporate this in their policy planning,” Joanne Tumai says.

For nine years Tumai and her son have had to deal with his condition and compromised immune system. She says a fully vaccinated caregiver will make life much easier.

Almost two years on from when the first Covid-19 community case was recorded in Aotearoa, Tumai has feared for her son's health every day.

 "He needs changing, he needs feeding, and he needs food prep. There is no physical distancing, so I totally agree with the government mandate," Tumai says.  

This week she finally got to rest easily. The government's decision to require the health workforce to vaccinate put her worries to rest.

On Monday, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced high-risk health and disability sector workers would need to have had their first dose by October 30, and be fully vaccinated by December 1.

Son Thomas Tumai who is non-verbal shared his view by indication.  Mum Joanne says he indicated, he would like his teachers and caregivers to get a vaccination

Thomas wasn't born with his condition. The once outgoing young Thomas aged 9-years old was in a tragic accident that affected his brain. He was then diagnosed with a neuromuscular condition.

"Unless you are immune-compromised, don't wait for your social media newsfeed to update you. just get it done so we can all enjoy the outdoors. Thomas enjoys the outdoors,” Tumai says.