London: A 90-year-old woman from Northern Ireland has become the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine outside trial conditions -marking the start of the UK's mass vaccination programme, reports BBC. Margaret Keenan, who turns 91 next week, said it was the "best early birthday present".
She was given the injection at 06:31 GMT - the first of 800,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine that will be given in the coming weeks.
Up to four million more are expected by the end of the month.
Hubs in the UK will vaccinate over-80s and some health and care staff - the programme aims to protect the most vulnerable and return life to normal.
Matron May Parsons administered Ms Keenan's vaccine at University Hospital in Coventry.
Ms Keenan, who is originally from Enniskillen, 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."The former jewellery shop assistant who retired four years ago has a daughter, a son and four grandchildren and is looking forward to being able to go out again once she receives the top-up booster dose 21 days later.
Maggie is among the first set of people contacted in advance by the NHS for the jab based on a pre-determined health risk criteria and will include 87-year-old British Indian grandfather of nine Hari Shukla, who will get his first dose at a hospital in Newcastle.
"I'm so pleased we are hopefully coming towards the end of this pandemic and I am delighted to be doing my bit by having the vaccine, I feel it is my duty to do so and do whatever I can to help," said Dr Shukla, a race relations campaigner, reports PTI
They have been picked based on the criteria set by the UK's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation phased rollout based on those at the highest risk of death from the deadly virus.
People aged 80 and over as well as care home workers will be first to receive the jab this week, along with NHS workers who are at higher risk among the first to receive the "life-saving jab".
The Pfizer/BionTech formula is an mRNA vaccine that uses a tiny fragment of genetic code from the pandemic virus to teach the body how to fight COVID-19 and build immunity.
The MHRA has stressed it has been cleared for mass rollout only after "rigorous" safety tests despite the process being speeded up due to the urgency of finding an effective vaccine against a pandemic that has wreaked havoc around the world
( With inputs from agencies)