Great-grandmother who lost husband to Covid-19 first nursing home resident in Ireland to receive vaccine

Great-grandmother who lost husband to Covid-19 first nursing home resident in Ireland to receive vaccine

Maura Byrne, who survived Covid-19 and lost her husband Donal to the disease in April 2020, received the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at Hollybrook Lodge, the residential care unit managed by St James’s Hospital in Dublin. Maura is pictured with vaccinator Ruth Hughes. Photograph: Anthony Edwards, Clinical Photographer, St James’s Hospital

A 95-year-old great-grandmother, who lost her husband to Covid-19, is the first nursing home resident to receive the coronavirus vaccine in Ireland.

Maura Bryne, who also survived Covid-19, received the Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday in Hollybrook Lodge at St James's Hospital's residential care unit in Dublin.

After receiving the vaccine, Mrs Bryne said: "I feel great at the moment."

The care home became the first in the country to receive the jab.

Encouraging others to get vaccinated, Mrs Byrne said she felt "very lucky" to receive it.

As a result of visiting restrictions in place at the nursing home, she has been unable to see her family but said she looks forward to speaking to them on video calls.

She said: "I'm very, very happy. I'm really happy. I'm lucky, I have an iPad, so I have little chats.

"When I go back up now I'll say 'look, I got the vaccine'.

"It's lovely, they all have messages for you. I have 15 great-grandchildren. The great-grandchildren would be standing on their heads, they're really funny.

Mrs Byrne thanked her family and the nurses in Hollybrook Lodge for their support.

"The nurses here are very kind. It's a home from home," she added.

Her husband Stephen died after contracting the virus last year.

Maura was recovering from Covid-19 at the time and was unable to attend the funeral.

"I buried my husband and I couldn't see him. I watched it on a phone.

"I wanted to touch my own (family). On my husband's card he told me that I could 'cry and want me back or smile and think of the happy days we had'."

The great-grandmother said she will keep smiling and is hopeful over the rollout of the vaccine.

Mary Day, CEO at St James's Hospital said: "As Ireland's largest acute academic teaching hospital and home to Mercer's Institute for Successful Ageing (MISA), a facility dedicated to advancing the conditions for successful ageing, it is particularly fitting that the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine in a residential care setting took place today in a residential care unit.

"We know that Covid-19 has been particularly challenging for older people, and vaccinating our older and vulnerable population and those who care for them is our priority.

"Thanks to all the residents and staff for their support in rolling out the vaccine."

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