GLASGOW’S older generation are providing inspiration to the city as a whole, right now.

For the last year, they have stayed at home, sacrificed longed for visits from family, to keep themselves and others safe from Covid-19.

Even a trip to the shops puts them at risk.

Social activity, for an age group where loneliness and isolation is a serious concern at the best of times, has come to an end. 

READ MORE:Covid Scotland: Inside Glasgow's vaccination centre

And for many, who do not have internet or iPads for Facetime or Zoom calls, their only interaction is a phone call or watching strangers on the television.

Sadly, many have died, either in a hospital, care home or at home, after they contracted the virus.

Too many people have died having spent their last few months, during a lockdown, without the simple pleasures they enjoy or without the opportunity to see even their closest family. 

And those who are grieving are having to do so without the same level of comfort from the bereavement support that extended family and friends provide in normal times.

Scaled back funerals and a ban on family gatherings is taking its toll on people at a time when they need contact of other people most.

But our older people are made of strong stuff. 

READ MORE:Meet the staff vacccinating in Glasgow

They have seen hard times before and they have come through them and they have learned from the experience.

The take-up of the coronavirus vaccine among the over-80s, and those in their 70s, who are eligible to receive it just now, is remarkable.
More than 90% of over-80s have had it, and remember, not everyone will be able to get it.

The over-70s are also taking up the vaccine invitation, with half of all 75 to 79-year-olds have already had the jag and the rest will get it in the next two weeks.

People of working age pretty much take it for granted that we have free health care and an NHS that looks after us from the cradle to the grave.

The older generation have seen, in the latter half of the last century, the advances in medicine and science.

They have witnessed the previous vaccination programmes that eradicated diseases that once killed or crippled young people in  huge numbers.

They understand the benefits of these interventions because many know, through experience, what it was like without them.

At the vaccination centre in Easterhouse this week, I was privileged to be allowed inside, for the Glasgow Times, to watch as people were given the jag and then speak to some of them afterwards.

The women and men I spoke to were all from Shettleston. 

They had come out on a typically wet and windy winter day when staying indoors was more inviting.

Some had come on the bus or by taxi to the centre to get the vaccine.
They were all in good spirits, especially once they had it.

Nothing was going to stop them getting it.
I spoke to husband and wife, Elizabeth and Billy McGhee, who had not been out in months and who said they were grateful to their daughters for “going the messages” for them.

Glasgow Times:
To Margaret Laing, who has been sewing masks to post to her family during lockdown.

To Christopher Kavanagh, who had a few choice words for people who were spreading anti-vaccine propaganda, and to Josephine Jasnosz, who, when I mentioned ‘rolling her sleeves’ up for the jag, laughed as she said she rolled hers down as she had an “of the shoulder number” picked out for the occasion.

As the vaccination programme moves down the age groups, we need to see the same level of take up as we are now with the older people.

Christopher explained it perfectly after he put anti-vaxxers in their place.

He said: “As well as helping yourself, you are helping everybody else. We are saving ourselves and other people.”

Glasgow Times:

The older generation have been first to be offered the vaccination. They have taken responsibility and gone to get it.

They know it will protect them, and as they are at the greatest risk of dying, if they are protected it will allow everyone a better chance of escaping lockdown, then we can all get back to the things we miss, which includes visiting them.

As they have done many times before, the older generation are leading the way, setting the example for the rest of us to follow.

The vaccine will not magically make coronavirus disappear but it is the only way we can protect against it other than perpetual lockdown cycles.

When it is my turn to get the vaccine, I will be following the example of Elizabeth and Billy, Margaret, Josephine and Christopher, and going along to get it.

I will be doing so with Christopher’s words in my head ‘as well as helping yourself, you are helping everybody else’.

If anyone has any better ideas for how we stop this virus taking the lives of older people prematurely, ruining the social and economic prospects of younger people and adding to the mental health crisis that too many people, of all ages, are struggling with, then please get in touch.

But forgive me if I don’t hold my breath while I wait, because that too, is likely to kill me.