UK began rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech today. Margaret Keenan, a 90-year-old grandmother, has become the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine outside of a trial following its rapid clinical approval. “I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against Covid-19,” said Keenan as reported by Reuters.
“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.”
Margaret Keenan, the former jewellery shop assistant, received the shot at University Hospital Coventry at 6:31 a.m. while wearing a surgical mask and a blue Merry Christmas T-shirt decorated with a cartoon penguin wearing a Santa hat and red scarf.
Priority for the coronavirus vaccine will initially be given to front-line staff on the National Health Service (NHS) and the over 80s before being rolled out to other segments of the public. Public health officials have asked the public to be patient because only those who are most at risk from the virus will be vaccinated in the early stages. “Today is just the first step in the largest vaccination program this country has ever seen,” said Simon Stevens, head of England’s National Health Service. “It will take some months to complete the work as more vaccine supplies become available … 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.”
The first 800,000 doses are going to people over 80 who are either hospitalized or already have outpatient appointments scheduled, along with nursing home workers. Others will have to wait their turn.
Among those older Britons scheduled to get vaccinated is Hari Shukla, of Newcastle.
The immunization programme will be rolled out across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and is being closely monitored by governments and public health officials around the world.
While the vaccine has been widely welcomed and is seen as a giant relief after months of death and uncertainty caused due to the pandemic. However, there is scepticism about how successful it will be, particularly as it needs to be stored and transported at the ultra-low temperatures.The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine needs to be kept at -70C (-94F) and only lasts five days in a regular fridge.