A 90-year-old hospital volunteer became the first person in London to receive the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine as the NHS began the “biggest” vaccine campaign in its history.
George Dyer, from Croydon, became the first person in the capital to receive the vaccine when he had a jab at Croydon Health Services NHS Trust on Tuesday morning.
Elsewhere, a UK grandmother Margaret Keenan, 90, from Coventry, was the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine as part of a programme just minutes earlier.
— Croydon Health Services NHS Trust (@croydonhealth) December 8, 2020
Vaccinations for the coronavirus are underway in all four nations of the UK as Britain became the first Western country to roll out a vaccination programme. Vaccines will be given at around 50 hospital hubs across England this week, with over-80s and some health and care staff eligible in the first stage of the programme.
Everyone who receives the vaccine will also get a “booster jab” in 21 days to ensure they have the best chance of being protected against the virus.
Dyer told Sky News: “When they suggested that they’re going to vaccinate everyone I thought ‘ooh that’s a good idea.’
“I have met some people that are utterly opposed to it and I can’t understand why. I feel very honoured actually to think I’ve had the vaccination and it’s not cost me any money.”
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which offers up to 95% protection against Covid-19 illness, was approved by the MHRA last week. It must be stored at -70C before being thawed out and can only be moved four times within that cold chain before being used, causing a tough logistical challenge.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, which the government has ordered 100 million doses of, is yet to be approved.
Meet Maggie: the first person in the world to receive a fully-tested and approved Covid-19 vaccine on the NHS. pic.twitter.com/eb2ijTMSLW
— NHS England and NHS Improvement (@NHSEngland) December 8, 2020
In an NHS statement, Keenan 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.
“I can’t thank May and the NHS staff enough who have looked after me tremendously, and my advice to anyone offered the vaccine is to take it – if I can have it at 90 then you can have it too!”
Vaccination centres treating large numbers of patients in sporting venues and conference centres will become necessary when further supplies of vaccine come on stream.
Voice of London has created a map of the seven NHS hubs carrying out vaccinations this week:
Words & Map: Connor O’Halloran | Subbing: Bethan Adams