Today at 6:31 am local time in the UK, Margaret Keenan became the first person in the world to receive a clinically approved Covid-19 vaccine. She was administered the jab at the University Hospital in Coventry, which is part of the National Health Service (NHS).
Ms Keenan, who received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, is the first of 4 million people that are expected to be vaccinated by the end of December. She turns 91 next week and is very much looking forward to seeing her family again, after receiving the booster dose in 21 days.
“I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against Covid-19, it’s the best early birthday present I could wish for because it means I can finally look forward to spending time with my family and friends in the New Year after being on my own for most of the year,” Ms Keenan said in a press statement.
This first historic injection was delivered by nurse May Parsons, who is originally from the Philippines and has worked for the NHS, which is free in the UK, for the last 24 years.
“It’s a huge honour to be the first person in the country to deliver a Covid-19 jab to a patient, I’m just glad that I’m able to play a part in this historic day,” Parson said. “The last few months have been tough for all of us working in the NHS, but now it feels like there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
The first phase of the vaccination in the UK will see the jab being administered in 50 hubs across the nation. The priority, for now, is people aged 80 and over, care home workers, and NHS workers who are at higher risk of coming into contact with the virus. It will then move down into age groups and those most vulnerable.
“Today is just the first step in the largest vaccination programme this country has ever seen. It will take some months to complete the work as more vaccine supplies become available and until then we must not drop our guard. But if we all stay vigilant in the weeks and months ahead, we will be able to look back at this as a decisive turning point in the battle against the virus,” NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said.
“A heartfelt thank you goes to everyone who has made this a reality – the scientists and doctors who worked tirelessly, and the volunteers who selflessly took part in the trials. They have achieved in months what normally takes years."
The second person to receive the vaccine is an 81-year-old named William Shakespeare, and the Internet is having a lot of fun making puns about the Bard, Covid-19, and vaccination.