GRAND RIVERS, KY — A bride-to-be from Grand Rivers, Kentucky, died last week of COVID-19. Her loved ones told NBC News she had decided to hold off on getting vaccinated, because of misinformation she was given about the shots. They told NBC News they're sharing her story because they know she would have wanted other people to learn from her mistake and get vaccinated.
The woman, 29-year-old Samantha Wendell, was set to marry her fiancé, Austin Eskew, on Aug. 21. Eskew told NBC News that Wendell had heard the false claim that COVID-19 vaccines can cause infertility, and she wanted to start a family as soon as they got married. So, she decided to wait. In early July, seeing how the Delta variant was spreading and leading to travel restrictions, the couple decided to get vaccinated before their honeymoon.
They made appointments for the end of July. But less than a week before they were set to get their shots, they tested positive for COVID-19.
Wendell was hospitalized about a week into the illness, and five days before she was supposed to get married, she was put on a ventilator. She died last Friday.
“Misinformation killed her,” Wendell's cousin Maria Vibandor Hayes told NBC News. “If we can save more lives and families’ lives, then this is the gift that she left for us to deliver.”
Wendell's mother told NBC News her daughter asked doctors at the hospital if she could receive the COVID-19 vaccine before she was put on the ventilator.
“It wasn’t going to do any good at that point, obviously,” Jeaneen Wendell told NBC News. “It just weighs heavy on my heart that this could have easily been avoided.”
Her funeral is scheduled for Saturday in Lisle, Illinois, near her parents' home.