'I was looking forward to this for so long, I thought the day would never come'
Today was a joyous day for the over-85s who came to receive their Covid-19 vaccinations and a proud day for those dedicated healthcare professionals as they took the first steps in protecting the most vulnerable in our community writes SALLY HARDING
The rain didn’t dampen the spirits of the hundreds of over 85s who braved the grim weather to receive their first Covid-19 vaccine in Navan today.
It was a historic day not just for our senior citizens and their loved ones but for the GPs, nurses and admin staff who have put themselves on the frontline since this pandemic reached these shores last February.
Today was a proud day for those dedicated healthcare professionals who have given everything they have as they began the first steps in protecting the most vulnerable in our community, some of whom have been cocooning since March of last year.
84 GP practices around the country were provided with the Pfizer vaccine this week, among them the Bedford and Abbey Road Medical Centres in Navan.
The atmosphere was jovial as vaccine receivers and their families arrived through the doors of The Bedford Centre who were preparing to vaccinate 246 people over the weekend.
Some had dressed up for the occasion donning their very stylish Sunday best with dapper men fashioning tailored suits, tweed caps and perfectly polished shoes while one 93-year-old lady sported a glamorous red head scarf, matching handbag and elegant sheep skin coat that she proudly informed me had been adorning the inside of her wardrobe for the past 50 years.
That is the thing about this generation, these people who built our country know real hardship, resilience and sacrifice and appreciate the true value of what’s important in life having lived through world wars, mass emigration, poverty and the first flourishing’s of an independent Ireland.
They always show up, never give up and without fail display dignity in the face of adversity and Covid-19, global pandemic or not is no different.
Watching these strong, steadfast, brave people become protected from a deadly virus that has petrified a generation, separated them from their loved ones and left many isolated and frightened can only be described as a privilege.
Light at the end of the tunnel is a phrase that has been bandied about more readily than blue masks scattered in the street but today felt like the end of a darkness that has plagued our elderly who should have been relishing their winter years and instead were prisoners in their own home.
One such person who is looking forward to getting her life back is Bridie Curran (92) from Lobinstown who said she was delighted to have had her Covid-19 jab.
“It was no problem at all, it is a relief to finally get it, I’m looking forward to getting out and about again.
Mary Finnegan (85) who lives on the Trim Road in Navan says she was relived to get the long awaited vaccine.
“I was looking forward to this for so long, I thought the day would never come.
“Everything went well and they are highly organised here.”
Gerty Collier (97) said she was feeling great after receiving the jab and hoped to get back to her much loved day-care activities in the near future.
Bedford Practice Manager, Ann Mulligan described it as an “historic day”, she added:
“Today is very important to us in the surgery here, we are vaccinating our oldest and most vulnerable patients this morning, both the partners, management and staff are very excited and thrilled to be doing this.
“All of our patients are coming in and everyone we have contacted in the last two weeks have said yes they wanted this vaccine and will be back with us in four weeks’ time for part two.”
It was a team effort according to Dr Joan Gilsenan who administering vaccines all morning. She said:
“It is a huge day, there is so much organisation that has gone into this, our practice manager and administrators and all our colleagues have worked so hard for this to be a success.
“It is a huge day for our over 85s. So many of these people haven’t even been out of their houses since this started and it is fantastic to see people today that I haven’t seen in months.
“There is a great atmosphere and a great buzz, I think people are just delighted to get started with this.”
There were similar scenes of joy at Abbey Road Medical Centre who were due to welcome 150 patients through the door to receive the vaccination.
Laughing and joyful conversations rang through the surgery as grateful patients lined up to get their pass to freedom.
Dr Marie Scully said people were “thrilled” to get the jab and be out and about once again. She added:
“This is a real red letter day for our surgery to start giving covid vaccinations to our most at risk and elderly population some of whom have been cocooning for the past year.
“Everyone here is very excited and emotional and all of the patients coming in have been very appreciative and just thrilled to be getting it.”
Phyllis and Ultan Dunne from Beauparc who have been married 66 years expressed their delight at the momentous day.
“We thought the day would never come,” said Phyllis (89).
“We have to come back in four weeks for the second one and then we will be protected so it’s a relief.
“We did what we were told during lockdown but it was hard, hopefully now things will get easier with the vaccine rollout, said Ultan (91).