By Stefan J. Bos
Doctors and journalists watched as Margaret Keenan wrote history. She received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine early Tuesday.
Nurse May Parsons, who gave the injection and other staff at the University Hospital in the British city of Coventry, had long waited on this moment.
Grandmother Keenan appeared visibly moved that this historic vaccination happened ahead of her 91st birthday next week.
However, “It was fine. I wasn’t nervous at all. It was really good,” she said about the vaccine. “But it hasn’t sunk in yet. I can’t really answer a question yet. It’s just really overwhelming; it is a first really.”
She was given the first of 800,000 doses of the COVID 19 developed by firms Pfizer and BioNTech that will be dispensed in the coming weeks.
Up to four million more are expected by the end of the month.
Overseeing at least part of the operation is Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who recovered from a severe bout of COVID-19. “What a beautiful mask you put on,” he told a patient with a catchy mask that they believe can protect against the coronavirus.
Johnson visited London’s Guy’s Hospital to see some of the first patients getting the jab there. He views the rolling out of coronavirus vaccines as the beginning of a long journey towards a sense of normalcy. “It was really very moving to hear [a patient] say that she is doing it [taking the vaccine] for Britain. That is exactly right because she is protecting herself but also helping to protect the entire country. In Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, and England, people have the vaccine for the first time,” he said.
“And it will gradually make a huge difference. But I stress gradually because we are not there yet. We haven’t defeated this virus yet,” Johnson added.
Many more countries are racing to purchase COVID-19. Despite these efforts, millions of people will celebrate Christmas alone or with very few people, as restrictive coronavirus measures remain in many nations.