A 90-year-old retired shop clerk was the first British person to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, December 8. This signalled the start of a global immunisation effort to curb the spread of the virus that has killed nearly 1.5-million people across the globe.
The vaccine was administered to Margaret Keenan at 6.31am at the University Hospital Coventry, which is one of several medical institutions across Britain that are handling the initial phase of the United Kingdom’s vaccine rollout.
“I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against COVID-19,” said Keenan, as reported by Fox News. “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.”
May Parsons, the nurse who injected Keenan with the vaccine, has worked for the National Health Service (NHS) for the past 24 years.
“I’m just glad to be able to play a part on this historic day,” she said. “The last few months have been tough for all of us working in the NHS, but now it feels like there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”
View this post on Instagram
The UK is the first western country to begin a mass vaccination programme after regulators authorised the use of Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine. Britain has received 800 000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, enough to vaccinate 400 000 people. The first shots will go to people over 80 who are either hospitalized or already have outpatient appointments scheduled, along with nursing home workers and vaccination staff.
Authorities have, however, warned residents that the vaccination campaign may take several months and that this may result in restrictions that will disrupt daily life until the spring.
“We still have a long road ahead of us, but this marks the route out,” British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.
Russia has also started vaccinating thousands of doctors with its Sputnik V vaccine. The use of the vaccine has been authorised after testing on a few dozen people.