- 08 Dec 20
Ms. Keenan was vaccinated by nurse May Parsons.
The world's first person to be vaccinated for Covid-19 is Margaret Keenan, a 90 year old Enniskillen native. The NHS delivered its first shots of the Covid-19 vaccine today (December 8), making Britons the first people in the world to receive the fully tested, clinically authorised vaccine.
“I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against Covid-19,” said Ms. Keenan, who lives in Coventry, in central England. “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.”
The first person in Northern Ireland to be vaccinated was a 28 year old nurse named Joanna Sloan. Ms. Sloan will be overseeing the vaccination programme in Belfast.
“I feel privileged and honoured and a little bit emotional that we have got here – very, very grateful,” said Ms Sloan, who is from Dundrum, Co Down.
“Through everything that healthcare workers [went through], either in hospital or [the] community – people themselves losing family members, us losing colleagues – it felt like it was a huge moment and that this was and could possibly be the final hurdle in the fight against Covid,” she added.
A total of 980 vaccinators are first in line in Northern Ireland to receive inoculation. There are also 770 people who have volunteered to become vaccinators, and will therefore likely be higher up in the queue.
Special mobile units also are being established so that vulnerable care home residents and staff also can receive the vaccine.
Dr Michael McBride, Northern Ireland's Chief Medical Officer, said: "We can begin to look to the future with a degree of optimism, with this vaccine and other vaccines and more effective treatments.
“Hopefully in the future Covid-19 will become a more manageable disease and we will begin the pathway to a more normal life,” he added.
The UK and Northern Ireland have a shared allocation of the vaccine, which means that the North is entitled to 25, 000 phials of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination. It is a two-vaccine inoculation, so 12, 000 of the most vulnerable are set to get the vaccine before Christmas, according to Northern Ireland's Minister of Health Robin Swann.
“Today is just the first step in the largest vaccination programme this country has ever seen," said NHS England Chief executive Simon Stevens. "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.
The vaccine is normally delivered by a simple injection in the shoulder, but delivery from manufacturers to patients presents a complicated logistical challenge – it needs to be stored at -70 degrees before being thawed out and can only be moved four times within that cold chain ahead of use.
Though there is no telling yet how these logistical issues will play out, today certainly is a good first glimpse of post-pandemic life.