103-year-old matriarch gets COVID-19 vaccine, thanks to 7 On Your Side

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WOODSIDE, Queens (WABC) -- The family of a soon to be 104-year-old woman said that despite their best efforts, their matriarch was shut out from getting her first COVID-19 vaccination shot. That's when 7 On Your Side went everywhere from City Hall up to Albany to get this centenarian scheduled.

Quick with a joke and despite her dementia, Mary Heaney still gets her facts straight.

She was born April 4, 1917, just a baby during the Spanish flu pandemic a century ago. In 1943, she married James Heaney when he returned from fighting in WWII.

Three kids, five grandchildren and five great grandchildren later, she remains isolated from from her loving family due to the pandemic. That's why her vaccine is so important, but she couldn't get an appointment.

"This generation that did so much for our country is forgotten about," her daughter, Mary Ann Kusterer, said. "It's very upsetting."

Kusterer spent days trying to get her mom and her mom's live-in aide scheduled.

"I've been on hold for 75 minutes and then get disconnected," she said. "You get to a spot, and they say there are no appointments available, then I put in her zip code, and there are no available vaccines with 50 miles."

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7 On Your Side appealed to both the city and state departments of health, but each time got the same response -- there were no shots available.

"There are no special accommodations that I've been able to find for people her age," Kusterer said.

It means Heaney can't attend Mass, go to the store, or have visitors.

"Of course I miss it," Heaney said. "I miss it a great deal."

Finally, we hit pay dirt asking the hospital where Heaney's cardiologist practices, and a few days after after our request, she got her first dose -- and she didn't even flinch.

"Mom got her shot thanks to Nina Pineda and her team," Kusterer said. "I couldn't have done it without 7 On Your Side. Thank you so, so much."

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