Today marks a landmark moment for the United Kingdom as the first NHS patient has received the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
The biggest vaccination campaign in British history began today, with 90-year-old Margaret Keenan being the first person to receive the vaccine following its authorisation by the Medicines and Regulatory Health Authority (MHRA).
Keenan, the former jewellery shop assistant who only retired four years ago, received the vaccine this morning from nurse May Parsons at her local hospital in Coventry. NHS nurse Parsons said it was a “huge honour” to be the first in the country to deliver the vaccine to a patient.
First vaccine delivered
The first phase of the vaccination programme will see the vaccine administered to patients who are over the age of 80 and who are already attending hospital as an outpatient, as well as those who are being discharged home after a hospital stay. The vaccine has to be taken in two doses for effective protection, and Keenan will receive the second vaccination in 21 days.
When receiving the vaccine this morning, Keenan said: “I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against COVID-19, 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.
“I can’t thank May and the NHS staff enough who have looked after me tremendously, and my advice to anyone offered the vaccine is to take it – if I can have it at 90 then you can have it too!”
NHS England chief executive, Sir Simon Stevens, said: “Less than a year after the first case of this new disease was diagnosed, the NHS has now delivered the first clinically approved COVID-19 vaccination – that is a remarkable achievement. A heartfelt thank you goes to everyone who has made this a reality – the scientists and doctors who worked tirelessly, and the volunteers who selflessly took part in the trials. They have achieved in months what normally takes years.
“My colleagues across the health service are rightly proud of this historic moment as we lead in deploying the PfizerBioNTech vaccine. I also 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.”
Vaccinations for care staff and residents
Care homes across the UK have seen outbreaks of COVID-19. Care home providers are now being asked by the Department of Health and Social Care to book staff into clinics for the vaccination to help limit the spread of the virus in these settings with vulnerable populations.
Healthcare workers who are at the highest risk of infection will also be able to book in for a vaccination, with health chiefs setting out how they will deliver the mammoth task of vaccination using hospital hubs, vaccination centres, and other community locations as well as GP practices and pharmacies.