A school teacher has been forced to live in her garden shed for more than three months in order to keep her fiancee safe from coronavirus.
Emily Vazquez moved into the shed when the school term started again in September and will not be able to move back into the main house until partner, James Minett, 29, has had the vaccine.
They’ve started a campaign to get James, who is recovering from leukaemia, higher up the priority list so the couple can return to some sense of normal life.
Despite having had treatment that wiped out his entire immune system, James is unlikely to get the jab until March because he classed in the same category as other transplant recipients.
Emily, who teaches Year 5 at Perry Court E-ACT Academy in Bristol, did not expect to be sleeping in the outbuilding, which is around five metres wide by five metres high, for so long.
They both anticipated James would be a top priority on the Government’s roll-out of the jabs.
He was diagnosed with leukaemia in February 2019 and was recovering from the potentially life-saving surgery when England’s first lockdown hit.
Following a stem cell transplant, James had to go into quarantine, which meant he was unable to see people indoors while a new immune system built inside him.
Just as that was coming to an end, Covid arrived in England and James was forced, once again, to go back into isolation.
It’s been almost two years since James’ shock diagnosis, and the IT worker is now desperate to see his friends and family indoors again.
Emily has just started a two-week isolation where she will not attend school so she can spend Christmas with James.
The pair’s appeal to get extremely vulnerable people higher up the priority list has been backed by Emily’s school.
Deputy head Kate Marsh tweeted: ‘We have a teacher living in a shed to allow her to keep her highly vulnerable partner safe in their house and come to work.
‘Can we spread the Christmas joy and get him the vaccine for Christmas?’
She urged Bristol mayor Marvin Rees, local MP Karin Smyth and Boris Johnson to help, but none of the leaders have yet responded.
‘Because it’s been so long since by operation, I’m no longer classified as at risk,’ said James. ‘My consultant was quite annoyed because stem cell transplants are being treated like solid body transplants and ignoring the fact that with my transplant my entire immune system has been wiped out.
‘I can’t wait to return to normal life, go to the pub or a restaurant again..’
Throughout the first lockdown, Emily did not have to go into school so she could stay in her home with James. But in September, she made the decision to return to classrooms, which meant moving into their small shed.
‘When I first moved in the shed I thought James would be vaccinated by Christmas,’ said Emily. ‘Now it’s looking more like March. We are both just really keen to get back to normal.’
While there is a working bathroom in the shed, there is no central heating and only minimal kitchen facilities, such as a kettle and toaster.
Every morning the couple meet to walk their dog together, but they are still unable to socialise indoors.
James, who is now in remission says he couldn’t believe it when he was told he had the condition.
He said: ‘My leg was swollen so I called 111 and they said “yeah you better have that checked out.” Within two days I was told it was leukaemia.
‘I was shocked, you don’t expect to get something like that at my age. It was only this summer I started feeling like my old self again. I’d been isolating for a year and half by then and I was getting fed up with it.
‘I really want to urge everybody to donate blood and register their stem cells. It saved my life. The number of donors has decreased during lockdown.’
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