A 90-YEAR-old gran is the first Brit to be given the new coronavirus vaccine in a historic moment as V-Day marks a huge step in the fight against the virus.
Margaret Keenan – known as Maggie to friends and family – was given the life-saving jab at 6.31am at her local hospital in Coventry, West Mids.
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She is among hundreds of OAPs and NHS staff will receive the vaccine on what is being dubbed V-Day.
Maggie, who turns 91 next week, 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.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "I'm feeling quote emotional seeing those pictures, it's been such a tough year for so many people but finally we have our way through it, the light at the end of the tunnel.
"It seems so simple having a jab in your arm but that will protect Margaret and the people around her.
"If we manage to do that for everyone who is vulnerable to this disease we can move on and return to normal.
"I am so grateful to the whole team who made this happen."
NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens praised all those involved in delivering the new vaccine programme.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Dr Hari Shukla, 87, will be at the front of the queue along with wife Ranjan, 84, and told The Sun: "I'm proud to do my duty."
Health Secretary Matt Hancock hailed it as an historic moment — and urged all Brits to get the jab when invited.
The eyes of the world will be on Britain this morning, with the start of the vaccine rollout broadcast live from a Midlands hospital at 7am.
Hundreds of Brits across the country will be inoculated today, with vulnerable over-80s, care home workers and NHS staff first in line.
Equality campaigner Dr Hari Shukla, 87, told of his pride and delight as he prepared to receive the injection in Newcastle today.
The dad of four and grandfather of nine, who was invited by his GP on Friday, said: “I was very excited I got the opportunity of joining in and taking part, so we are very, very pleased and happy and excited as well.
“I am delighted to be doing my bit by having the vaccine, I feel it is my duty to do so and do whatever I can.”
Dr Shukla, from Tyne and Wear, went on: “This has been a terrible year but I always had faith in our doctors and scientists.
“They are true heroes. I knew they would come to our rescue and I am just honoured to be among the first to benefit from their amazing work.”
Wife Ranjan, 84, will also get the jab.
NHS chief Sir Simon Stevens said today marks a “decisive turning point” in the war against Covid and there is now “cause for hope”.
We will look back on today, V-Day, as a key moment in our fight back against this terrible disease
PM Boris Johnson praised scientists who developed the vaccine and said its rollout is a “huge step forward”.
Britain last week became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
It will be offered free on the NHS, with health workers and people deemed highest risk getting it first.
Mr Hancock urged people to accept the inoculation offer when it comes so the country can return to normal as quickly as possible.
He said: “I’m asking you to do your duty and get the jab.
“We will look back on today, V-Day, as a key moment in our fight back against this terrible disease.”
The vaccine will today be available from around 50 hospital hubs across the country.
Each has received an initial tray of 975 doses, which is stored at -70C and must be used within days of opening.
Up to 48,750 people could get their first jab by the end of this week. Recipients will need two, 21 days apart.
More centres will be opened in the weeks and months ahead as more supplies arrive.
The UK has ordered 40million doses, with four million expected by the end of the year.
'DECISIVE TURNING POINT'
Doctors will have to issue a prescription naming the patient and jab until regulations change to allow mass vaccination.
GPs are expected to start administering it from next week, with some taking it to care homes to give to residents.
The University of Oxford Covid vaccine, which is cheaper and easier to store, could also be approved by regulators within days.
Sir Simon said NHS staff had been working day and night planning the historic vaccine rollout.
He added: “Coronavirus is the greatest health challenge in NHS history, taking loved ones from us and disrupting every part of our lives.
“Hospitals have now cared for more than 190,000 seriously ill Covid-19 patients and have seen beds fill up again in recent weeks. The deployment of this vaccine marks a decisive turning point in the battle with the pandemic.”
Mr Johnson added: “Today marks a huge step forward in the UK’s fight against coronavirus, as we begin delivering the vaccine to the first patients across the whole country.
“I am immensely proud of the scientists who developed the vaccine, members of the public who took part in trials, and the NHS who have worked tirelessly to prepare for rollout.
"But mass vaccination will take time, and we must remain clear-eyed about the challenges that remain.”
Prof Stephen Powis, the NHS national medical director, also warned the rollout will be a “marathon not a sprint”.
The PM’s dad Stanley, 80, has revealed he will get a vaccine as soon as he is eligible and will “encourage others to do so”.
Patients aged 80-plus who are already in hospital or attend for other treatment will be among the first to get it.
Others in that age group may also be invited, along with care home staff working nearby.
Any doses left in each batch will be given to high-risk NHS staff to avoid waste.
‘Ttoday we take a decisive step in our country’s fightback against this deadly virus’
By Sir Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England
Coronavirus has undoubtedly made 2020 an incredibly challenging year for our country, and of course dedicated NHS staff responding to the worst health emergency in the 72 year history of our health service.
Nurses, doctors, paramedics, therapists, and countless others have worked tirelessly to care for nearly 200,000 seriously ill patients with Covid-19, while keeping essential services on the go for major conditions like cancer and strokes.
True to the traditions of our NHS and the spirit of our country, we pull together in darker times.
So throughout the weekend, nurses, pharmacists, doctors and many others have been working flat out at dozens of hospitals across the nation to be ready to vaccinate today.
People aged 80 and over, care home workers and residents together with at-risk staff will be first in line, with many more set to benefit in the coming months.
Many of you will be waking up this morning to news that the first patient in the world has received this vaccine since it was approved: an extraordinary achievement for science and for my colleagues working in the health service.
While the end may be in sight, we must not forget that our hospitals are still caring for many thousands of Covid patients, and we cannot let infections get out of hand. So it is vital that everyone continues to act sensibly, until further vaccine supplies become available between now and next spring.
Then as more vaccine comes available we will be able to switch on large vaccination centres across the country, alongside GP surgeries and local pharmacists offering local clinics.
The NHS will contact you when it is time to get your jab.
Protecting everyone against this terrible disease will take time, but there is now cause for hope, and there’s no doubt that NHS staff will once again rise to the challenge.
It has been an exhausting, draining year for everyone.
But today we take a decisive step in our country’s fightback against this deadly virus.
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