Margaret Keenan: 91-year-old who received first Covid jab urges everyone to get the vaccine

'Please, please do have the jab because it'll save your life,' Margaret Keenan says

Margaret Keenan, who a year ago made history while she had the Pfizer Covid jab, has urged everyone to "please have the jab".

The 91-year-old received the jab at Coventry's University Hospital and became the first person in the world to get the vaccine outside of a trial.

Speaking on the one-year anniversary, she said: "Please, please do have the jab because it'll save your life and the life of your friends and family - and the NHS as well of course."

She adds: "Don't think about it, just go and have it done, you know - just do it.

"It doesn't take long to have it done, you can either book in or walk-in centres do it - go and have it done."

The grandmother, who is a mother of two and grandmother of four from Coventry in the West Midlands described being a global name as "wonderful".

'I cannot believe it now what happened at the time because I was quite ill', the 91-year-old says

Margaret – known as Maggie – was speaking at University Hospital Coventry, the place where a year ago, to the day, on December 8 last year, she became the first person to have a jab as part of a mass vaccine rollout.

She was joined by the matron who delivered the jab, May Parsons, who warned that unvaccinated young people and pregnant women were “gambling with their lives” by not getting vaccinated – urging them to come forward.

Looking back on the historic jab, Margaret – who has also already also had her booster and flu jabs, – said: "It felt great, honestly, I could not believe that things went so well, afterwards.

"At the time I wasn’t feeling good but once I got that jab and things started to be better, so I had a wonderful year – thanks to the NHS."

She said: "The best Christmas present I could have is being in good health and having had the jab and feeling free from this horrible virus."

Mrs Keenan has lived in Coventry for more than 60 years but is originally from Enniskillen, Northern Ireland.

Speaking about people who had not yet had any jab, she said: "It’s amazing how many people don’t want it.

"I don’t know why because they should have it… everybody should have the jab."

Margaret Keenan was the first person in the UK to get a Covid jab, back in December. Credit: PA

The nonagenarian, who only retired from her job working in a jeweller’s six years ago, added: “I hope I’m a good example, skipping down the road.”

Posters of Mrs Keenan and Ms Parsons, marking the moment the historic first jab was delivered, are dotted all over the hospital.

The matron, who is in charge of hospital’s Covid wards, came close to tears as she urged unvaccinated people to have a jab, saying too many unprotected people were dying on the wards.

She described them as "gambling with their lives", adding "this could have been avoided if they’d just had the vaccine."

"I manage Covid wards in this trust.

"And just the amount of Covid patients that we’re getting who are young and fit and healthy, with no medical history, being really terribly ill with Covid."

May and Margaret hug as they are reunited a year on Credit: Jacob King/PA

She continued: "Also pregnant and young – unvaccinated.

"Those are the people I would like to reach out to and find out the reasons why they are not having it, because they’re gambling with their lives.

"The amount of people we have seen that are young and pregnant, and aren’t vaccinated, dying for the virus is just not right."

She added: "The respiratory wards haven’t had any let up in terms of Covid numbers it’s always been Covid in my ward and it’s even more difficult now.

"We are also seeing young people that shouldn’t be there, and also seeing pregnant women that also shouldn’t be there.

"I feel personally, is there anything that I could have done more in terms of pushing the vaccine to these young people or to people who think they’re fit and healthy and the virus isn’t going to touch them?

"It’s a really difficult scene to see people – with their lives in front of them – be devastated by the virus

"You’ll get a lot of statements from them saying ‘I wish I’d had the vaccine’.

"But by that time, even if I give them 100 vaccines it isn’t going to work."

She said: “It is having that insight, having to see that day in, day out, it’s a really heartbreaking time.”

NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: "Maggie’s jab marked the launch of the world’s first national vaccination programme – watched around the globe it was a moment of hope after months of fear."

She added the mass rollout had now delivered nearly 100 million jabs in England, but urged people to apply to become one of 10,000 new staff needed by the NHS to help with the next phase of delivering booster injections.