Video report by ITV News Correspondent Sejal Karia
A Covid-19 vaccine has been injected into a patient for the first time in the UK. At 6.31am on what has been dubbed 'V Day' by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, early riser Margaret Keenan, known to friends and family as Maggie, was given the life-saving jab without "feeling a thing" by nurse May Parsons.
Margaret, who is from Enniskillen in Northern Ireland and lives in Coventry, will be 91 next week and 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.”
“As I said before, at the moment I don’t know how I feel, it’s just so strange and so wonderful, really,” Margaret said.
“This is for a good cause so I’m so pleased I had it done.”
Ms Parsons said it was a “huge honour” to be the first in the country to deliver the vaccine to a patient. Speaking at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, she said: “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. “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.”
Asked by ITV News if she felt nervous with the eyes of the world on her, she said: "At the time I was doing the vaccination all I was worried about is the patient.
"Making sure that she’s comfortable and that she’s alright with the hustle and bustle and making sure that she’s actually happy for it to be done that way and that she’s OK."
"Afterwards, the attention was a little overwhelming for me but then again I was thinking about her so I was hoping she wasn't so overwhelmed," she added.
Coronavirus: What You Need To Know
The jab, made by US pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and German manufacturers BioNTech, will continue to be rolled out in 14 locations across the UK on Tuesday as the country’s biggest vaccination program kicks off. Retried jeweller Margaret, who has fronted the start of the fightback against the coronavirus pandemic, wore a blue Christmas t-shirt as she received the jab.
She said she plans to have some rest now that the vaccine has been administered and she sat with nurses drinking tea ahead of being driven back home.
Nurses applauded her as she was wheeled out of the hospital, with a return penciled in for three weeks' time - when she will receive her second dose.
Full immunisation is then expected in the first week of January.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: “Today the first vaccinations in the UK against Covid-19 begin. “Thank you to our NHS, to all of the scientists who worked so hard to develop this vaccine, to all the volunteers – and to everyone who has been following the rules to protect others. We will beat this together.”
Speaking at Guys and St Thomas Hospital, he hailed the rollout as a "shot in the arm for the entire nation" but warned there is still a long way to go.
Labour leader Keir Starmer described "a momentous day in our fight against Covid-19", while First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon said she “got a lump in her throat” watching the jab.
'A shot in the arm for the entire nation'
Husband and wife Hari and Ranjan Shukla are also set for their first doses on Tuesday, becoming the first to do so in Newcastle, and said they feel “the crisis is going to come to an end.”
Mr Shukla, who said he got the call on Friday from his doctor, said on Monday: “It’s an excellent idea, we will certainly do whatever we can because we are very excited about it.
“When we heard that we’ve got the vaccine now, we felt that the crisis is going to come to an end.”
He added: “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.”
The couple join Margaret among the few to be vaccinated before the New Year, with the government expecting “the majority” of vulnerable people to follow suit in January and February.
The first vaccinations will go to care home staff and residents, NHS frontline workers and people aged 80 and over – around six million people. But Westminster stressed that two further vaccines were still being assessed by regulators, which could boost the number of doses available. There are 800,000 doses in the first tranche, meaning 400,000 people will be vaccinated initially.