By Sumaya Hussein (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thumbnail photo courtesy of Sky News
The beginning of the end of the pandemic has begun as the first person in the world has been vaccinated outside a clinical trial.
Margaret Keenan, 90, received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at University Hospital in Coventry, as the NHS launched its biggest ever vaccine campaign on Tuesday. Mrs Keenan, who will turn 91 next week, said being the first was a “privilege” and the “best early birthday present one can wish for”. According to her, having the vaccine meant she could spend time with family and friends in the New Year after being alone for most of 2020.
“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 added.
Mrs Keenan will receive a booster shot in 21 days to ensure she has the best chance of being protected against the virus.
The UK became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer vaccine last week. The government has secured 40 million doses of the vaccine which studies have shown is 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 infections in all age groups.
During the weekend, the vaccine began arriving in batches at a hospital in South London, ahead of the country-wide rollout. At least 800,000 doses enough for 400,000 people were received in the first batch. Vaccinations will be given at dozens of hospital hubs from today called “V-Day” by Health Secretary Matt Hancock. People aged 80 and over together with home care workers will be among the first to receive the vaccines.
Mr Hancock told Sky News he felt “quite emotional” watching Mrs Keenan have the vaccination.
“It has been such a tough year for so many people and finally we have our way through it – our light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
“And just watching Margaret there- it seems so simple having a jab in your arm, but that will protect Margaret and it will protect the people around her,” he added.
Mrs Parson, the nurse who gave Mrs Keenan the vaccine, said it was a “huge honour” to be the first in the country to deliver the vaccine to a patient.
“The last few months have been tough for all of us working in the NHS, but now it feels like there is light at the end of the tunnel,” added Mrs Parson.
First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon said she “got a lump in her throat” watching the video of the first COVID-19 vaccination being administered.
“Feels like a milestone moment after a tough year for everyone. The first vaccines in Scotland will be administered today too.” She tweeted.
NHS England medical director Stephen Powis said on Sunday that beginning COVID vaccinations “feels like the beginning of the end”, but warned the campaign will be a “marathon, not a sprint”.