90-Year-Old Grandmother World’s First to Receive Coronavirus Vaccine
The United Kingdom has already witnessed more than sixty-two thousand coronavirus-related deaths.
Margaret Keenan, a ninety-year-old grandmother, was the recipient of the first Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine outside of a trial given out by British health authorities at University Hospital Coventry on Tuesday.
“I say go for it, go for it because it’s free and it’s the best thing that has ever happened,” Keenan, who hails from Northern Ireland, told reporters.
“If I can do it, well, so can you,” she told any vaccine doubters.
As luck would have it, the second injection went to an eighty-one-year-old man named William Shakespeare.
Keenan, who turns ninety-one next week, said getting inoculated means that she can start to look forward to spending time with her family and friends again.
Britain is the first Western country to start immunizing its population in what has been labeled as a critical turning point in the battle against the ten-month-long pandemic.
The first 800,000 vaccine doses have already been tabbed for nursing home workers and individuals over the age of eighty who are either hospitalized or already have outpatient appointments scheduled.
Stephen Powis, the national medical director of England’s National Health Service, told the Associated Press that seeing the first shot administered was an emotional moment.
“This really feels like the beginning of the end,” he said.
“It’s been really dreadful year, 2020—all those things that we are so used to, meeting friends and family, going to the cinema, have been disrupted. We can get those back. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Not next month. But in the months to come.”
The United Kingdom has already witnessed more than sixty-two thousand coronavirus-related deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, which is more than any other country in Europe.
On Saturday, Russia began vaccinating thousands of doctors, teachers, and others at dozens of centers in Moscow with its controversial Sputnik V vaccine. The country authorized use of the shot last summer after it was tested in only a few dozen people.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday announced that data from Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine trials was consistent with recommendations put forth by the agency for an emergency use authorization. It added that the vaccine was highly effective and did not have any safety concerns.
Last week, health-care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities were tabbed by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices—an outside group of medical experts that advise the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—as the first groups that would have access to a coronavirus vaccine. Children and young adults are expected to get the vaccine last.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.