By Rose Barrett
Exasperation and bewilderment for carer and vaccine campaigner, Mike Molloy, turned to ecstasy and relief on Tuesday last when he finally was called to have a Covid vaccination.
Speaking to the Gazette after receiving his Pfizer jab, Mr Molloy stated he was “the happiest man in the world, and my mum feels the happiest Mammy this evening!
“The pressure on both of us has been near intolerable and it feels like a pressure valve has been released!”
Mike Molloy (39) campaigned tirelessly in recent months for the ‘Great Forgotten’, that is, the family carers in Dublin and across the country who were not prioritised in the Government’s vaccine roll-out.
Mr Molloy is sole carer to his mother Rose-Marie (85) who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease three years ago.
A man who was involved in the international peace movement for years, and previously worked with British prime ministers and leading international politicians, Mike returned home from France to look after his mum following her Parkinson’s diagnosis.
Using his communication skillsets, he single-handedly led a blistering media campaign to challenge the omission of family carers as a priority in the Covid vaccine roll-out.
“I’m an only child; my father Michael died when I was 11 months old so my mother has been my family, mentor and friend. In recent years, Mum downsized and moved into an apartment in Killiney, a typical modern design for the area.
“There is no front or back garden and no balcony; there is wonderful outdoor communal space – unusable during the Covid lockdowns, neither of us have been outside the door since St Stephen’s Day last!
“Mum and I have adhered to the HSE guidelines to the letter, 100% compliant to our government recommendations – we are your Covid poster family!” said Mike who has glaucoma in one eye.
“There are 100 other people living in this building so we were forced to shut ourselves inside, allowing only deliveries from our local pharmacist plus grocery deliveries.”
Mr Molloy described how the isolation and no outside exercise almost drove the pair to a nervous breakdown.
“We were afraid to go out – Mum was fully vaccinated but terrified, and I mean terrified, that I might have been infected.”
With all healthcare and nursing home staff vaccinated, Mr Molloy says he cannot fathom why family carers were “thrown on the scrap heap and utterly forgotten.”
In February, he wrote a letter entitled ‘A Carer’s Year of Fear’ to everyone from the Taoiseach down, and raised the issue via national media. Already this week, he has featured on national airwaves and in press, highlighting the issue.
“Paschal Donohoe was the only Cabinet minister to show any compassion in his response. Sinn Fein leader, Mary Lou McDonald has shown public and private compassion throughout, and raised the matter in the Dáil.
“I was a very active person who played touch rugby, tennis, walking on the beach, etc – but Mum and I remained indoors, almost living like we had agoraphobia.”
Mr Molloy’s mother got shingles after her second vaccine but by then, he claims, both their physical and mental health had deteriorated badly.
“I literally called every service of the state and felt each and every one of them failed us. Only the public health nurse and Family Carers Ireland were there for Mum and I.”
“In one day alone, I was sent around 14 different services as I pleaded to be vaccinated – we had not been out in six month and were both close to nervous breakdowns.”
“I felt like I was in a crazy ‘Pass the Parcel’ game – and I was piggy in the middle! Even when the HSE advised me of a Dublin centre that had spare vaccines left, I called and was refused – they told me to revert to the HSE! It was like being on a merry-go-round!”
“I feel it should not have taken me to air lots of our personal and medical circumstances in public, and to secure several media appearances for the system to listen and act.
“We will follow all of the public health guidelines but look forward to slowly returning to normal life,” said Mr Molloy.
“Life is a great gift and we intend to make the most of it. However, I will be campaigning for a much better system that properly looks after the family carers in this country!” he concluded.