Karen (50), Youth Worker/Shop Assistant. Canterbury, NZ.

I have rheumatoid arthritis and was denied an exemption from vaccination which health professionals were aware I would probably react to as I had

previously had allergic reactions to other medications. I even through tears argued with my GP saying you know this will be bad for me to which she replied i have to tell you to get vaccinated, it is the only option. After my first vaccination I had severe convulsions for over a week but was still informed I would have to have a second in order to work at the school I was employed at, in order to attend a wedding, to access the hospital with my teenage daughter (they wouldn't let me through the doors). Due to strict rules around gathering numbers and vaccine passes I could not attend funerals for friends. Due to lockdowns we were unable to support my brother and attend the funeral for my stillborn nephew. The emotional and physical toll was


I believe being an island nation we could have avoided all lockdowns as it was possible to isolate and stop this at the border. I was worried about getting sick so followed all protocols including self isolating, not going out for weeks on end, getting others to do my shopping, sanitizing everything, avoiding others. This all had a huge impact on my emotional and mental state. I have worked with at risk young people and I was in contact with others who were

suicidal being lockdowned for so long.

To hear our prime minister say that she and her government were the only source of truth but information coming from overseas, who had been battling this longer than us, was giving other options than lockdowns, mandates, and limited treatment options was infuriating. To be told to not speak to your

neighbour, to be cut off from family, to be denied access to places due to my medical status was life altering. Many relationships affected during this trauma have never recovered. New Zealanders were pitted against each other. I was told by well meaning friends and family that I couldn't go to their home or eat out with them unless I had the second vaccine. It was a harrowing time and i believe very preventable. I have had covid 3 times and had

nowhere near as many symptoms or illness than I did from the vaccine.

The vaccine did not prevent the illness or protect from the symptoms. The virus was not as scary as the medical personnel, the government and ministry of health insisted.

I have so many bad memories of this time in our history. It sent splinters through society and the way we interact with each other.

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