Being able to visit her local pub, the Waterloo Inn, is among the things which Cork woman Nora McAuliffe is most looking forward to once she receives her second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and restrictions are eased.
The Blarney woman was among some 350 people to receive the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at a mass vaccination clinic at the Bishopstown campus of Munster Technological University (MTU) today.
The centre will be used by a number of GP practices to vaccinate patients aged 70 years and older over the coming weeks.
Today, GPs vaccinated in the region of 350 patients aged 85 or over from certain GP practices in Cork City and Cork East.
It is expected that 2,500 people aged at least 70 will be vaccinated by GPs at the facility over at least the next six weekends.
Nora, who has six children, 11 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, said she was delighted to have received the vaccine.
The Blarney woman said that thankfully the past few months have not been too difficult for her.
“I didn’t mind it. I read the papers and books, and the neighbours were ringing me. My family are living near me,” she said.
Asked what she was most looking forward to once she received her second dose of the vaccine she laughed saying “I’d like a glass of brandy”, adding that she was looking forward to a visit to her local.
Glasheen couple Rhona and George Coulter also received the vaccine today with Rhona saying she felt “terrific” and “excited” to get the jab.
The couple said while they've missed things like playing tennis, dancing, and seeing friends over the past few months, they have enjoyed each other's company.
“I’m a ballroom dancing teacher and I’d be working morning, noon and night so now, I nearly had a year off,” said Rhona.
She said that she and George planned their routine together each day.
“We went for a walk every day and we enjoy each other's company and we’re getting on grand. We listen to the news."
The couple already has a plan for the first things they would like to do once they have received the vaccine, and restrictions have eased, with Rhona saying she looking forward to hugging her grandchildren.
“To see all the family will be the first thing, then to see the friends and have some of the dancers back,” she said.
After that, Rhona said they are looking forward to the day when they can go on holidays again.
Dr Mike Thompson from Imokilly Medical Centre is GP lead at the centre and is co-ordinating the GPs and administrative staff as well as the medical students who have volunteered their services at the facility.
He said that there was a sense of euphoria at the centre today.
“We have 21 GP practices today with over 50 GPs and practice nurses coming together to vaccinate the eldest people of our population today, the over 85s, who have definitely borne the brunt of it with cocooning or with Covid.”
He said it was a big relief for patients as they began to receive the vaccine.
“Everyone is so grateful and there’s just a fantastic atmosphere here today.” he said.
The Taoiseach paid a visit to the vaccine centre on Saturday.
Speaking to the Echo, he said that there are already positive signs coming from the vaccination programme.
“It’s wonderful to see the happiness amongst people who have been vaccinated, our senior citizens. They’re waiting for this. It’s very good the manner in which it’s been organised by the GPs, coordinating a number of practices coming together here to the Munster Institute of technology along with the HSE.
“We’re now beginning to see already in our nursing homes and in our hospitals the impact of the vaccination programme. It’s reducing very significantly the level of disease and so it has made sense that we have focused efforts initially on the most senior of our citizens initially, age-wise and also in terms of front-line healthcare workers, that’s already bearing fruit.
“As we go through the age-cohorts, in time we will have very significant numbers of people who would ordinarily be very vulnerable to this disease who will now be protected from it by the vaccines.”