Betty McElholm, 103, pictured below with staff from Blossomgate Medical Centre, Dr Elizabeth Murphy; Marguerite O’Brien, nurse; Dr Sonya Ryan who administered the vaccine; and Anita Fitzgerald, nurse
A SOON to be 104-year-old Limerick woman made a little bit of history this week when she became the first person to get the Covid-19 vaccine at her local doctor’s surgery.
“It’s kind of itchy now, nothing bad. ‘Tis a good idea to get it I think,” commented Betty McElholm on Wednesday afternoon, moments after she was inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccine by Dr Sonya Ryan at Blossomgate Medical Centre at Kilmallock Primary Care Centre.
Betty, who was born on March 18, 1917 has spent the past 12 months in almost complete isolation apart from visits by those very close to her.
The Limerick Leader visited Betty on March 18 of last year, just as the Covid-19 pandemic began to take grip of the globe.
Her comment then on what she thought of it all was: “If I get the virus, sin a bhfuil!”
Twelve months on and she is still going strong and looking better than ever.
“When they were talking about the virus first, I said, if I get it, that’s it,” she continued in the doctor’s surgery on Wednesday afternoon.
When asked if she was delighted to get the vaccine, Betty replied: “Well, I hardly ever pick up anything. I take three tablets in the morning. I don’t know what they are. I am grand. I eat whatever I get. Best of all I like breakfast. I have porridge, tea and toast.”
It’s hard to comprehend that this jovial woman before our eyes was born into a world where the Great War had led to millions of deaths and where the Spanish Flu was about to claim the lives of millions more.
The key to her long life, Betty thinks, is the genes.
“My mother was 95, she was O’Leary and all her family, they were all fairly ancient so I suppose that’s it.
“It’s hard to believe it,” she continued of being on the verge of turning 104. “I didn’t ever think it would happen. My dad (William Carroll) had an uncle who was 95 and I think to myself what would he think now of his daughter at almost 104?,” she pondered aloud.
And is she doing anything special for her big birthday on March 18?
“No, I hope not anyway,” she smiled.
Dr Sonya Ryan said she was “absolutely thrilled” to be able to start administering the vaccine in Kilmallock.
“Oh it’s like Christmas,” she said. “We’ve been waiting for this and we know the patients have been as well. It’s just amazing to get started on it. We feel very privileged and grateful to be in a position to give it. It’s fantastic. We are delighted to start with Betty. She is amazing. She really is an amazing person.”
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