A former nurse in Dundee is calling on retired colleagues to join her in offering to help roll out the Covid-19 vaccine across the city.
Mary Cavin, 74, who runs the Golden Oldies Cinema Club, said UK approval for the Pfizer vaccine announced yesterday was a “ray of hope” in an otherwise “devastating” year for elderly people across Tayside.
“A lot of members in my group are desperate to get this vaccine, and I hope we’ll get it before Christmas,” she said.
“If Dundee had 100 nurses administering vaccines full time, it would happen quickly.
“Many former nurses like me would be more than happy to come out of retirement to offer their services voluntarily for this to happen.
“We took the Hippocratic oath when we got our degrees.
“All we need to do is go and practice on oranges again yet again.”
Mary’s husband, Vic, 83, has been shielding at their Downfield home for nine months due to him having pulmonary fibrosis.
“Over this time his condition has deteriorated significantly,” said Mary.
“He’s very unwell at the moment, and after nine months of this it gets really depressing.
“Virtual doctors appointments are as good as a chocolate fireguard.”
The Golden Oldies Cinema Club offers pensioners a chance to socialise and watch classic movies together but the pandemic this year put a halt to regular gatherings.
The club has around 60 members, half of whom live alone and Mary speaks to them on a regular basis.
“The loneliness, the isolation,” she said.
“Humanity works through integration – no man is an island. People can’t function on their own and what we’ve gone through this year gave us too much time to ruminate. It doesn’t take much to trigger depression. It’s too much.
“I’ve always been an active person but I find now that I’m struggling, and I’m seeing everyone else deteriorate too.
“This vaccine finally gives us some hope. For the members of the club, it will give them a lease of life.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Wednesday that, if supplies arrive on time, the first jabs will be administered on Tuesday December 8.
She described the approval of the Pfizer vaccine as “without a shadow of a doubt the best news we have heard since the pandemic started”.
However, she warned that the vaccination programme would be a “massive logistical exercise”.
Elderly people in care homes and their carers are top of the list to receive the vaccine, which has been shown in studies to be 95% effective.
Gordon Samson, a volunteer at Dundee Pensioners’ Forum, said: “I look forward to this and would encourage retired people that they should take this vaccine – full stop.
“I know some people have doubts, but this vaccine will hopefully see pensioners return back to some kind of normality, without fear hanging over them.
“The majority of older people have stuck by the rules this year and that has brought difficulties, especially loneliness. Finally, we’re starting to see light at the end of the tunnel.”
Gordon, 79, a former worker at Dundee’s Timex factory, said he had lost two close colleagues and two neighbours to Covid-19.
“This year has been a struggle for many pensioners,” he said, “and my age group bore the brunt of casualties.
“I’ve known people who couldn’t get to see their loved ones in care homes and hospitals, and then these people passed away.
“We don’t want to go back to that.
“Care homes will be first in line for the vaccine and I’m happy to wait for my turn.
“I’ve got my flu jab and this jab will just be another one.”
John Alexander, leader of Dundee City Council, said the region was “geared up” to roll out the vaccine as quickly as possible.
“For many, this announcement will be an early Christmas present and it is a really positive milestone,” he said.
“The world’s best minds have been tested and pushed and they’ve delivered.
“The council is coordinating our efforts with NHS Tayside to ensure that this vaccine can be rolled out as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“The logistics, refrigerated storage and roll out have all been planned over the last few weeks by a wide array of partners, including Dundee City Council. This work has been rapidly accelerated to ensure that we are geared up to support this.
“Scotland will receive a proportion of the ordered vaccines and these will be rolled out on a phased basis, as the first minister has previously detailed.
“For frontline staff, there will inevitably be a sigh of relief that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”