A 90-year-old grandmother-of-four in Coventry has become the first person in the UK to be given the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine as roll out of the programme across the UK begins this week.
The UK is the first country in the world to be using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine after regulators approved its use last week.
Margaret Keenan, who has lived in Coventry for six decades but is originally from Northern Ireland, was inoculated on Tuesday morning at 6:31 am by nurse May Parsons at University Hospital Coventry.
Ms Keenan said it was “a privilege” to be the first to receive the vaccine, calling it “the best early birthday present I could wish for”. She will receive a booster jab in 21 days to ensure she has the best chance of being protected against the virus.
Like many around the country, Margaret has been self-isolating for most of this year but is now planning on having a small family ‘bubble’ Christmas.
She thanked the Coventry nurse who administered the vaccine and other NHS staff for their “tremendous” efforts in looking after her.
Originally from the Philippines, nurse May Parsons has worked in the NHS for 24 years, having been at University Hospital Coventry since 2003.
She said it was a “huge honour” to be the first in the country to deliver the vaccine to a patient, adding that it felt like a “light at the end of the tunnel.”
Elsewhere across the country, vaccinations will be given at dozens of hospital hubs from today in what has been dubbed by Health Secretary Matt Hancock as “V-Day”.
The phased vaccination programme will see patients aged 80 and above who are already attending hospital as an outpatient, and those who are being discharged home after a hospital stay, among the first to receive the life-saving jab.
Care home providers are also being prioritised to attend vaccination clinics, while GPs are expected to begin vaccinating care home residents shortly.
Some 800,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been secured by the Government to be administered in the coming weeks, though 40 million doses have been ordered in total to arrive next year.
NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens praised all those involved in delivering the new vaccine programme.
He said: “I 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.”