Margaret Keenan, a 90-year-old grandmother from Northern Ireland, became the first person in the world on Tuesday to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine shot outside of a trial as Britain began vaccinating its population.
An early riser, Keenan received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at her local hospital in Coventry, central England, on Tuesday morning at 0631 GMT, a week before she turns 91.
A video showed Keenan being pushed in a wheelchair out of the ward while nursing staff clad in protective gear lined the corridor to applaud and cheer, in an echo of moving video clips released through the year when COVID-19 survivors finally left the hospital.
Britain is the first Western country to start immunizing its general population in what has been hailed as a decisive watershed in defeating the coronavirus.
“I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against COVID-19,” said Keenan, as she received the shot from a nurse originally from the Philippines in front of a photographer and TV crew.
“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.”
Keenan, known as Maggie to her friends, is a former jewelry shop assistant who only retired four years ago. She has a daughter, a son, and four grandchildren.
Video footage showed her wearing a light blue mask, a grey cardigan along with a blue t-shirt with a penguin in snow, and the message “Merry Christmas” as she received the shot in her left arm from nurse May Parsons.