We've all read the headlines, the updates, the stalls and delays, the cheers from the first vaccine administered in the country. We've seen the cases falling and rising and falling again, but what about the people getting and administering the vaccines?
A new documentary is bringing these stories to light, as V-Day charts the biggest vaccine campaign ever recorded in Irish history, chronicling the highs and lows of overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic.
From the first delivery of vaccines to a Waterford health centre, to the emotional first jab for 86-year-old Carmel, the documentary will highlight the extraordinary plight of healthcare workers and all the people that make getting the vaccine possible.
Starting in February 2021, as the roll-out for over 85s begins, we follow along as grandparents and elderly people get their first bit of freedom in weeks, many already planning their next visit to the shops, the salon or park.
Many of them regard the last year to be a precious year of life wasted. They have spent much of that time locked in their homes, some too terrified to go anywhere or to meet anyone. For Carmel, her trip to the Medical Centre is a moment of joy, from the balloons that greet her to the bouquet of flowers gifted to her by her doctor.
Elsewhere, we have touching stories of couples being reunited, as with Liam whose vaccine allows him to visit his wife Maureen in her nursing home once again.
The documentary will highlight how much effort has gone into getting the vaccines into medical centres and then into arms, as it follows the long chain of workers and people who brought the vaccines to our shores.
From the mass vaccination centre in Galway, to Drumalee GP Surgery in Cavan to the Waterford Medical Centre, we follow delivery drivers, healthcare workers and administration staff as they work on the huge task of vaccinating the Irish public.
It can be easy to take for granted how comparatively straight forward getting the vaccine in Dublin, Cork City or other major cities is, but as the documentary shows, getting precious doses to smaller villages is no mean feat.
As Dr. Noreen Curtis says, "Inishbiggle [in Co. Mayo] has a population of 16. The thought of having to transfer patients off the island to go somewhere else to get it done – it just couldn't have been done. The physical effort of going down a ladder and getting on to a boat – they just wouldn’t have been able for it".
By spring, the focus turns to other vulnerable groups, such as the homeless community. As winter turns to spring, Dr. Austin O'Carroll tirelessly works to vaccinate the homeless community in Dublin’s King’s Inn Street. Difficult to track some of this cohort down, Austin describes his relief at sourcing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, meaning he can inoculate those that are homeless with just one jab.
Amid these heartrending stories are many that show just how close many of us became and remained during the pandemic, especially as the country struggled to get on top of the vaccine roll-out.
Rose and Tommy Lyons first met when they were 14 and live in Dublin's inner city. Rose is now 82, and Tommy is nearly 85. Married 63 years, we meet Rose and Tommy at home, where they travel to the Grangegorman Primary Care Centre to get their long awaited Covid vaccine.
We see them having their vaccine together, then we talk to Rose and Tommy outside the surgery as they talk about how lockdown has been, how frightened they have been, and what effect the pandemic has had on their relationship. They long for the day where they can freely go for a walk or take a trip to Bray, as they once used to.
The moving documentary, filmed from February to May of this year, offers an honest look at how the country has fared over the course of these challenging months, and documents the beginning of the end of the world's worst medical crisis in recent history.
Watch V-Day on Wednesday at 9:30pm on RTÉ One.