She sat on the edge of the couch, legs not quite reaching the floor. I had just administered the first dose of her COVID-19 vaccine. “Is that it?” she said. “Is that what all the fuss is about?”. Having assured her that she had indeed received her injection, I then proceeded to advise her that she might have some side effects in the next 48 hours (displaying my newly acquired knowledge from those hours of ICGP and HSEland Webinars).

She cut me off in mid-sentence. “ Indeed and I won’t have side effects,” she said, looking me straight in the eye. With that, she hopped down off the couch, and as I helped her on with her winter coat, she grabbed her walking stick and took off down the corridor to the waiting room. I walked along behind her wondering just who was caring for who in this scenario!

The next man I saw recounted how he clearly remembered the Asian Flu Pandemic (1957 -1958) when he was working in the UK and did not even flinch when I administered his vaccine. Without putting it into words, he had shown me that his life experience had taught him that this much talked-about pandemic was just a passing phase and it too would end.

Everyone in our practice over the age of 85 who was offered the vaccine agreed to have it. Everyone turned up on time for their appointments. No one cancelled despite the orange wind warning and the rain pouring down relentlessly on vaccination day. And yes, you guessed it – no one complained of side effects after vaccination – at least none that they would bother the doctor with ………!

This band of brothers and sisters all over the age of 85 are a true source of inspiration and provide guidance and leadership to the rest of us on how to stay calm and carry on – no matter what life throws at us.

By Dr Margaret O’Riordan, ICGP President & GP in Tipperary

March 2nd 2021