Dublin woman (95) becomes first nursing home resident in the State to be vaccinated

Maura Byrne lost her husband to Covid-19 and survived the disease last year

A 95-year-old Dublin woman, who lost her husband to coronavirus, has become the first nursing home resident in the country to receive a Covid-19 vaccination.

Maura Byrne, who survived the disease, received the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at Hollybrook Lodge, the residential care unit managed by St James's Hospital in Dublin.

The State-run care facility in Inchicore is the first nursing home in the country to receive vaccinations. Ms Byrne was the first resident at the care home to be vaccinated on Tuesday.

“I feel great at the moment,” said the great-grandmother after receiving the vaccine.


She encouraged others to take the vaccine when it becomes available to them.

Stephen Byrne, her husband of 70 years, died in April after contracting Covid-19. She was battling Covid-19 in the hospital at the time of his death and unable to attend his funeral.

Ms Byrne has been unable to see her family because of visiting restrictions but said she was looking forward to telling her family on a video call on Tuesday.

“I’m very, very happy. I’m really happy. I’m lucky. I have an iPad so I have little chats,” said the Dublin woman.

“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.”

Ms Byrne’s fight with coronavirus and her death of her husband from the disease featured on the RTE Investigates: Inside Ireland’s Covid Battle that was broadcast in June.

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

Ms Byrne was photographed smiling as she received the Covid-19 vaccine.

Mary Day, chief executive of St James’s Hospital, said it was fitting that the roll-out of the vaccine in nursing homes started at Hollybrook as the Dublin hospital is home to the country’s largest acute academic teaching hospital and Mercer’s Institute for Successful Ageing, a clinical research facility for services for the country’s ageing population.

“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,” she said.

Another HSE-run home, Beaumont Hospital's Raheny Community Nursing Unit, is expecting to have the first dose of the two-dose vaccine administered to its residents on Thursday.

The HSE has said that 21 other nursing homes will receive vaccinations this week as it is targeting 35,000 vaccines administered by the end of this week.

Private and voluntary nursing homes are scheduled to start receiving their vaccines on Thursday.

The HSE plans to roll out vaccines to all 582 nursing homes in the country, public and private, over the next six weeks. There are about 30,000 residents and 35,000 staff in the care facilities.

Vaccinator teams will administer doses at each location, making two separate visits, three weeks apart.

Nursing homes have borne the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic, with nursing home residents accounting for more than half of 2,265 deaths associated with the virus since March.

On December 29th, Annie Lynch, a 79-year-old grandmother from Dublin, became the first person in the State to be vaccinated at St James's Hospital.

Infectious diseases consultant Dr Eavan Muldoon, a breast-feeding mother, became the first healthcare worker in the Mater Hospital in Dublin to receive the Covid-19 vaccine on Tuesday.

The 42-year-old mother said she volunteered to be the first person in the Mater to receive the vaccine to reassure people who have concerns about receiving the vaccine while breastfeeding.

“We have had several queries from other healthcare workers who are breastfeeding about whether they should get the vaccine and I want to assure them that for their own health, that of their baby and their patients, they should have no hesitation in receiving it,” she said.

The Mater said that the vaccination of patients in the hospital will begin shortly.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times