Couple married for 64 years become first patients to be given Covid-19 vaccine in East of England

A couple who have been married for 64 years have become the first patients in the East of England to be given a Covid jab.

Arthur Simper, 86, and his wife Barbara, 82, were each given a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at Milton Keynes Hospital on Tuesday morning.

After receiving the jab, Barbara said that she would "much rather get the vaccine than Covid-19 itself” and added that she was looking forward to getting back to "the new normal."

The couple hope that they will soon be allowed to hug their two sons, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren once they've received their second dose in three weeks time.

"Hopefully we can get back to the 'new normal' now," Barbara said.

"Not now, but when everyone has had it, we should be able to socialise and meet up again."

Arthur added: "The thing is, it's been tested. You've got to accept that everything's OK."

Staff at the hospital have also started to be vaccinated, with Blood Bank Manager Jasmine, who has worked for the Trust for 21 years, the first to get one.

Hospitals across the East will start administering injections this week as part of the biggest mass vaccination programme in the UK's history.

The initial doses will be given to the elderly, health workers and carers. 

The very first person to get a jab was 90-year-old Margaret Keenan who was given the injection at 6.31am at University Hospital in Coventry.

Doses were also administered in Essex on Tuesday as war veteran Frederick Benton was given the first dose in Basildon.

Tuesday was dubbed “V-Day” by Health Secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock, while Prime Minster Boris Johnson hailed the rollout as a "shot in the arm for the entire nation".