British Grandmother Becomes First Person in the World to Receive Pfizer COVID Vaccine

Margaret Keenan marked the historic occasion by having a cup of tea, making way for the second jab recipient: William Shakespeare (really).
December 8, 2020, 9:08am
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Margaret Keenan, 90, is applauded by staff as she returns to her ward after becoming the first person in the United Kingdom to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccine. Photo: Jacob King - Pool / Getty Images

The UK has become the first Western country to begin vaccinating its general population against the coronavirus.

Shortly after 6:30AM, Margaret Keenan, who turns 91 next week, became the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccine outside of a trial when she was given the jab at University Hospital in Coventry.

"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,” she said.

UK regulators approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine last week, becoming the first country to do so. Britain has ordered 40 million doses – enough to vaccinate 20 million people, as two doses are required per person.

It is thought that around 800,000 doses will be available in the coming weeks, with care home residents and their carers, people aged over 80 and some key workers the first in line to receive the vaccine. 

After making history as the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, Keenan urged other people to get the vaccine too, and then had a cup of tea.

Administering the shot was May Parsons, a nurse originally from the Philippines who has worked for the NHS for 24 years.

“It’s a huge honour to be the first person in the country to deliver a COVID-19 jab to a patient, I’m just glad that I’m able to play a part in 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 light at the end of the tunnel.”

The UK has one of the worst COVID outbreaks in Europe, with 61,434 deaths and almost 1.75 million cases.