A 90-year-old woman called Margaret Keenan has become the first person in the world to receive a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 virus, heralding the start of the UK’s mass vaccination programme.
The grandmother from Northern Ireland was administered with the first jab at 6.31am today by NHS nurse May Parsons at a hospital in Coventry.
The jabs will start to be given to as many people as possible as of today, which Health Secretary Matt Hancock has called ‘V Day’.
Mrs Keenan – known as Maggie to her mates – will be 91 next week and only retired from her position at a jewellery shop four years ago.
Naturally, she’s glad to have been given the vaccine and hopes that it will allow her to see more of her friends and family, including her daughter, son, and four grandchildren.
She said: “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.
“I can’t thank May and the NHS staff enough who have looked after me tremendously, and my advice to anyone offered the vaccine is to take it – if I can have it at 90 then you can have it too.”
The chief executive of NHS England has also reserved praise for those involved in rolling out and development of the vaccination programme.
Sir Simon Stevens said: “Less than a year after the first case of this new disease was diagnosed, the NHS has now delivered the first clinically approved Covid-19 vaccination – that is a remarkable achievement,
“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.
“My colleagues across the health service are rightly proud of this historic moment as we lead in deploying the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.”
He added: “I also want to thank Margaret, our first patient to receive the vaccine on the NHS.
“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.”