96-year-old Brockville resident happy to receive her first COVID-19 shot

Mary McHugh of Brockville receives the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday. (Nate Vandermeer/CTV News Ottawa)

As COVID-19 vaccinations start to rollout to the general public, people are anxious to receive their shots and get back a sense of normalcy.

CTV News Ottawa received an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at the vaccination process, following 96-year-old Brockville resident Mary McHugh on Thursday. McHugh received the vaccine on the one-year anniversary of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I'm very happy to be going (Thursday night) to get my needle. I'm not a lover of needles but I'll take it," McHugh said from her home in Brockville's north end.

While the isolation and lockdowns have been tough, she says she's ready to get back to her active social life.

"I miss my swimming," McHugh said. "And my swimming friends and going out to lunch. I love to go out for lunch."

Mary's daughter Cathy says her mother has been a trooper through the whole pandemic.

"She's quite the socialite and this has been a real lockdown for her, so I'm really proud of how she's embraced it and how she's dealt with it to date," Cathy said.

"We've been in each others bubble, so it's been very limited but we try and get out a couple of times a week. She gets in her convertible and comes over to see me and comes to my house because it's a bit of an outing as opposed to her place," Cathy said.

"These same walls every day, day in and day out get a little tired," she added.

Cathy managed to book an appointment on Sunday for her mother to receive her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Thursday evening in Kemptville. She said the process was really simple.

"Just picked a day and time, her health card number, name, address," Cathy said. "In less than 24 hours I got a confirmation that the booking was confirmed and then another reminder saying where it was, where to pull in all that kind of stuff."

"A very, very great seamless process," Cathy added, noting her mother has been anxious to finally receive her first dose.

"I'm going (Thursday night)," Mary said. "Boy, I want to get that shot!"

Even though Mary lives in Brockville, the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark Health Unit says any eligible resident can get their shot at one of the four vaccination centres set up in the county.

Just after 5 p.m. Thursday, the McHughs left for the short drive to Kemptville. Once they arrived, the process did not take very long.

A quick survey was done once inside to make sure she was experiencing no COVID symptoms, she was registered and was assigned a seat.

A nurse arrived once Mary was seated and asked if she was ready.

"I don't like them (needles), but I want it," Mary said. "I want to be well."

Her shot, administered quickly thereafter, with the nurse telling her she would hardly feel it.

"All done?" Mary said. "Wow! Holy smokes! That's great!"

Dr. Suzanne Rutherford, director of the North Grenville Vaccination Centre, says the older demographic have been over the moon while receiving their first shots.

"It's incredible, and even the people that are the most afraid of needles are so excited for this one," Rutherford said.

"We had a woman the other day who left who said this was better than Boxing Day shopping! She was just absolutely thrilled."

"The positivity and the sense of relief we see in people, honestly the 80 plus generation have been hit really hard," Rutherford said. "They've been made to feel very at risk and vulnerable and this immunization has given their live back. That's what we're hearing over and over again, how they just feel like they are getting their life back."

Rutherford also credited her team at the clinic for making the first few weeks so successful.

"The clinic itself has been set up really efficiently so that people have very minimal wait time. So far the feedback has been great from the community and really it has to do with the hard work of the entire team involved. All of the people who are coming and contributing their time here really are what's made the difference," Rutherford said.

After waiting the recommended 15 minutes after receiving her shot, Mary was ready to go.

"I'm just feeling great! I'm trying to decide if I'm going to have a Caesar or a margarita! Maybe I'll have both," she said.

The whole process took about 20 minutes from arrival until she was given the ok to leave.

The clinic also gave Mary the date of her second dose, scheduled for July.

"I'm not a fan of receiving needles but that was good," Mary said outside the clinic. "No issues. I'm ready for my Caesar!"

"We're just excited to see the finish line of this marathon, you know?" Cathy added.

"We still have a way to go but we're one step closer, right mom?" she added.

"Yup, you bet!" Mary said.