Gabriel Kelly got a new lease of life in a wooden booth in Dublin’s new vaccination centre yesterday.
I’m looking forward to getting out and mixing with people again,” said the 85-year-old from Lusk, Co Dublin, as he received his first Covid-19 vaccine at The Helix theatre at Dublin City University.
Mr Kelly arrived with his daughter, Ciara Delves (48), and was led through a maze of pre-fabricated wooden compartments.
They received a warm welcome from Dr Tara Galligan, a general practitioner based in Marino, who explained the procedure and administered the jab.
Mr Kelly spoke of his 13 grandchildren and how he looked forward to being able to give them a hug, now that he had begun the process of resuming a normal life.
His wife, Gertie, stayed at home as she was “too young” at 82 to take part in the over-85s vaccination event.
Mr Kelly, who won a junior championship medal at Croke Park in 1962 when he played corner-back for the local Round Towers GAA club, said he could not wait to get out and support the Dublin footballers again.
Daughter Ciara said: “We’re a very close family and we’ve missed celebrating birthdays and Christmas, but I feel privileged to be here today.”
Dr Galligan, who is from Clare, said she was delighted to be vaccinating people.
“I’ve been so happy today, and it’s a wonderful feeling to think we’re doing something really useful to get us all out of this pandemic,” she said.
“I got vaccinated myself on Little Christmas Day, but to me it felt like Big Christmas Day.”
Nearly 1,000 people aged 85 and over were vaccinated at The Helix yesterday.
Monica Sherry (91), from Ratoath, Co Meath, received her vaccine from Dr Karen Palmer, who is based at the Centric clinic at Clifton Court in Dublin.
Ms Sherry, who was with her daughter, Imelda, said she was looking forward to going out walking again.
Great-grandmother Teresa Mooney (85), from Cappagh Court, Rathmines, attended with her friend and neighbour Brendan Conlon (88).
“I’m so looking forward to the day when I can have a meal with my family and to be able to get a taxi. It will be back to civilisation,” she said.
Both of them had an interest in ballroom dancing, but the pandemic had put a stop to all such events.
Mr Conlon said he missed visiting garden centres.
Blackrock GP Dr Pat Coghlan (63) had a busy morning, and told of the relief of patients who received their Covid jabs.
Some appeared a little uncertain, but they received encouragement from family members.
Dr Coghlan is also the medical officer in an HSE nursing home where 40 of the 50 patients had contracted Covid-19 and six died.
Not getting the infection himself “felt like coming out of a burning building without a scratch”, he said.
HSE chief executive Paul Reid said it was “an emotional day” at the centre after a difficult year.
It was “great to see an atmosphere of joy”, although he was also keeping in mind all those who had lost loved ones to the virus.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly was in jubilant mood as he visited The Helix, saying: “This is the light at the end of the tunnel.”
He said the nation had been through “a very hard year” but, at long last, comm- unity vaccinations were well under way.
Professor Brian MacCraith, chairperson of the High Level Covid-19 Taskforce and a former president of the university, said the start of vaccinations at The Helix was “a euphoric moment”.
Source: Irish News