Nurses cheered on Tuesday as an elderly British grandmother became the first person in the Western world to receive an approved vaccine against COVID-19, at the start of a marathon campaign health officials hope heralds a fight-back against the global pandemic.
Margaret Keenan called the jab she received at a hospital in Coventry, central England, “the best early birthday present” before she turns 91 next week.
“My advice to anyone offered the vaccine is to take it. If I can have it at 90 then you can have it too,” she said. “I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against COVID-19,” added Margaret, a former jewellery shop worker who has two children and four grandchildren.
UK regulators last week became the first in the world to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for general use, and the first jabs were administered across the country from early on Tuesday morning. Britain has been one of the worst-affected countries in the world, with more than 61,000 deaths in the outbreak from 1.6mn cases.
Margaret received the jab in front of cameras at 0631 GMT, and received a guard of honour from clapping medics as she was wheeled back to her bed.
She was followed by an elderly man called William Shakespeare, who like the world-famous playwright is from Warwickshire.
May Parsons, a nurse originally from the Philippines who has worked for Britain’s National Health Service for 23 years, called it a “huge honour” to administer the jab to Margaret.