Cork mum’s joy as Tara, 10, gets the Covid vaccine

Eithne Hayes, from Rochestown, explained that her 10-year-old daughter Tara suffers from Down syndrome-associated arthritis (DA).
Cork mum’s joy as Tara, 10, gets the Covid vaccine

Eithne Hayes from Rochestown with her 10-year-old daughter Tara who will be among the first children in Cork to be vaccinated this morning

A YOUNG girl from Rochestown will be among the first kids in her age group to be vaccinated this morning following almost two years of agonising restrictions.

Eithne Hayes, from Rochestown, explained that her 10-year-old daughter Tara suffers from Down syndrome-associated arthritis (DA).

The condition has been described as an aggressive, erosive, inflammatory arthritis affecting one in 50 children with Down syndrome. The medication Tara is required to take for her condition suppresses the immune system, making the risk of contracting Covid-19 even more frightening for the family.

This isn’t the first health complication suffered by Tara, who underwent open-heart surgery for mitral valve regurgitation in 2019. The condition resulted in blood flowing back to her heart due to complications related to the mitral valve.

Eithne said the family have had to sacrifice a lot to keep each other safe. Now, the day they have been waiting for has finally arrived.

“There is so much anti-vaccination talk, especially when it comes to children,” Eithne said. “However, people are forgetting about the children like Tara who really need it. There are parents out there who really want this. We know this won’t prevent Tara from getting Covid. However, the vaccination offers us peace of mind that it will be a milder dose if she does get it. This will give her a chance of fighting it without hospitalisation.” 

Eithne and her husband have had to restrict their movements significantly since the recent rise in cases.

Eithne Hayes from Rochestown with her 10-year-old daughter Tara who will be among the first children in Cork to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
Eithne Hayes from Rochestown with her 10-year-old daughter Tara who will be among the first children in Cork to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

“Tara has barely been in a shopping centre,” Eithne said. 

“She can’t even go to a playground unless it’s at a time where there are no other children there. We don’t really have visitors but the few who came over have had to wear a mask. Tara doesn’t really understand why people have to wear masks. She finds it all very strange. Her siblings worry about her a lot. 

"My son Cillian even asked if he should start wearing a mask around the house in order to protect Tara.”

The family remained on high alert over Christmas.

“The last two weeks have been very scary for everyone. We had no choice but to batten down the hatches for Christmas. We didn’t bring Tara to Santa because it just wasn’t worth the risk.

She can’t go to the places she used to or do the things she did before. She used to love swimming but hasn’t been able to go for two years. When we heard that children would be able to be vaccinated, it gave us such a huge sense of relief.”

Parents are being asked to register their child for the vaccination online using a PPS number, an Eircode, a mobile phone number, and an email address.

 Eithne Hayes with her daughter Tara at their home in Rochestown, Cork last summer. Picture Dan Linehan
Eithne Hayes with her daughter Tara at their home in Rochestown, Cork last summer. Picture Dan Linehan

Kids are now eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine if they have a health condition that puts them at higher risk from the disease, or if they live with someone at risk.

All other children will be offered the vaccine in January.

Registrations can also be made by phone.

The HSE plans to administer the vaccine to most children in vaccination centres, with parental consent required before a vaccine can be given.

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