95-year-old great grandmother who lost husband to Covid-19 becomes first nursing home resident to get vaccine.
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95-year-old great grandmother who lost husband to Covid-19 becomes first nursing home resident to get vaccine.

A 95-YEAR-OLD great grandmother who lost her husband to Covid-19 last year has become the first nursing home resident in Ireland to receive the vaccine. 

Maura Byrne lost Stephen, her beloved husband of 70 years, after he contracted the deadly virus in a care home last April.  

To make matters worse, Maura was also fighting the virus in hospital at the time. 

She was unable to be with Stephen in his final few hours, missed his funeral and was unable to receive comfort from family members. 

It was a heartbreaking situation she was powerless to prevent. 

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“I buried my husband and I couldn’t see him. I watched it on a phone. I wanted to touch my own (family),” the Dublin woman said. 

"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’.” 

But now Maura is looking forward to better days to come. Days when she will be reunited with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

Though she has been unable to see her family due to the restrictions in place at St James’s Hospital, she has kept in touch via the internet and is looking forward to enjoying hugs and warm embraces with her loved ones in the not-too-distant future. 

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’, 

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"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.” 

Maura’s vaccination signals the continuation of Ireland’s mass vaccination programme with Mary Day, CEO, St James’s Hospital explaining that the priority at this stage is the older and more vulnerable members of society. 

She said: “As Ireland’s largest acute academic teaching hospital and home to Mercer’s Institute for Successful Ageing, 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 St James’s Hospital’s residential care unit, Hollybrook Lodge.  

"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.”