V-DAY heroes last night urged vaccine sceptics to have the Covid jab for the good of the country.
Thousands of elderly British patients made history yesterday by being the first in the world to get the injection outside of medical trials.
The national vaccination drive was launched at 70 UK hospitals, with most doses given to the over-80s.
Margaret Keenan, a Coventry grandmother, was first in line, declaring: ‘If I can have it at 90, then you can have it too.’
Lyn Wheeler, 81, who was given the Pfizer jab in front of Boris Johnson at Guy’s in London, called for everyone to do their duty so normal life can resume.
V-DAY heroes last night urged vaccine sceptics to have the Covid jab for the good of the country. Margaret Keenan, a Coventry grandmother, was first in line, declaring: ‘If I can have it at 90, then you can have it too’
‘It’s all for Britain,’ she added. ‘I’m going for it because I feel there’s no other way forward. We can’t keep sitting in our houses.’
Mr Johnson said: ‘You have seen Lyn take it, you have seen people take the vaccine this morning in large numbers.
‘There’s nothing to be nervous about. To all those who are scared – don’t be.’
Day one saw around 5,000 people vaccinated, including the elderly, care home staff and NHS workers.
An initial 800,000 doses are being rolled out in the coming days and Health Secretary Matt Hancock has promised millions more before Christmas. In other developments:
Lyn Wheeler, 81, who was given the Pfizer jab in front of Boris Johnson at Guy’s in London, called for everyone to do their duty so normal life can resume
- Holidays abroad were given the green light for next summer by officials;
- Care homes were told to expect doses of the vaccine by Christmas;
- Mr Hancock appeared to well up on live TV as he described his pride at the rollout;
- The Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine was found to be ‘safe and effective’ in a major study in the Lancet;
- However regulators face a decision over whether to approve the vaccine with a low-dose initial injection;
- US regulators inched closer to approving the Pfizer jab for the most vulnerable;
- Mr Johnson appeared to issue a warning about London following a rise in infection rates, sparking fears it could be plunged into Tier Three next week;
- Chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance warned the public may still be wearing face masks a year from now;
- Schools may be allowed to take an inset day on the last Friday of term so stressed teachers can have a ‘proper break’;
- A further 616 people died of coronavirus, taking the total to 62,033. Another 12,282 cases were confirmed.
An initial 800,000 doses are being rolled out in the coming days and Health Secretary Matt Hancock has promised millions more before Christmas. In other developments. Pictured: Mr Hancock became emotional and appeared to wipe tears from his eyes while being interviewed on ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Tuesday
Reacting to the footage of Mrs Keenan having her jab yesterday, Mr Hancock told Sky News: ‘I’m feeling quite emotional, actually, watching those pictures.
‘It has been such a tough year for so many people and finally we have our way through it – our light at the end of the tunnel as so many people are saying.
‘And just watching Margaret there – it seems so simple having a jab in your arm, but that will protect Margaret and it will protect the people around her.
‘And if we manage to do that in what is going to be one of the biggest programmes in NHS history, if we manage to do that for everybody who is vulnerable to this disease, then we can move on.’
He told the Commons more hospitals would be added to the list in the coming days. Around 300 GP hubs are expected to begin administering the jab next week, with hopes it could be taken into care homes within the fortnight.
Hospitals have been told they will be expected to use a minimum of one box of vaccine – 975 doses – during the first week, suggesting a total of almost 70,000.
Designated family doctors have been asked to operate from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week, calling patients in for appointments by phone, message and letter.
Further stocks are due to arrive next week, before being checked and distributed to hospitals and surgeries across the UK from a secret storage facility.
Mr Hancock said he hoped ‘several million’ vulnerable people will have been given the jab by Christmas, paving the way for the easing of coronavirus restrictions by spring. Professor Stephen Powis, medical director of NHS England, hailed yesterday as a turning point for the pandemic.
‘This is the way out of it, the beginning of the end,’ he added. ‘It’s not going to happen tomorrow, it’s not going to happen next week or next month. We still need to socially distance, we need to follow all those restrictions in place.
‘But, in 2021, vaccination programmes will mean we can get back to normality.’
NHS England’s chief executive Simon Stevens said: ‘Less than a year after the first case of this new disease was diagnosed, the NHS has now delivered the first clinically approved Covid-19 vaccination – that is a remarkable achievement.’
Sir Simon also thanked all the scientists, health workers and volunteers who helped with the breakthrough.
US regulators last night confirmed that the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine was strongly protective against Covid-19.
The Food and Drug Administration is expected to give the jab the green light within days, paving the way for thousands of Americans to join Britain’s vaccination efforts.
Coronavirus was involved in a quarter of deaths recorded in the final week of November, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The number of fatalities in England and Wales fell for the first time in more than two months as the lockdown drew toward an end. Despite the fall in overall deaths, Covid fatalities rose and more people died than has been typical for the same time of the year.
There were 12,456 deaths in the week that ended on November 27 – 79 fewer than in the previous week.
‘If I can do it, so can you’: Stirring message from ‘Super Gran’ aged 90 who’s first to receive vaccine
By Andy Dolan and Claire Duffin for the Daily Mail
The grandmother aged 90 who became the first person to receive the covid vaccine jumped at the chance, her grandson said yesterday.
Conor Maton said despite being just 4ft 10in, Margaret Keenan was a ‘larger than life’ character who wanted to do what she could to help get the country back on track.
And after she had the jab, Mrs Keenan declared: ‘If I can have it at 90 then you can have it too.’
Grandmother Margaret Keenan, aged 90, who became the first person to receive the covid vaccine jumped at the chance, her grandson said yesterday
Mr Maton, 29, said Strictly Come Dancing fan Mrs Keenan was much younger than her years and was working in a jewellers until six years ago before falling ill – not with Covid – and being admitted to hospital a few days ago.
After recovering well, Mrs Keenan, who is due to celebrate her 91st birthday next week, received the vaccine from nurse May Parsons at University Hospital in Coventry at 6.31am yesterday.
Known to family and friends as Maggie, Mrs 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.’
She added: ‘I can’t thank May and the NHS staff enough, and my advice to anyone offered the vaccine is to take it.’
Mrs Keenan had been isolating since March. Mr Maton said having the jab means she can now celebrate her birthday with those in her bubble and see her family at Christmas.
Mr Maton, who lives around the corner from his grandmother in Coventry, said: ‘We’re really proud of her.
The fact that she’s 90 years old – 91 next week – will hopefully give other people confidence to have the jab.
‘It sums her up because she’s a wonderful woman. She’s always been Super Gran to us.’
Her proud son Philip Keenan, an electronics expert at Cambridge University, described her as a ‘little person with a heart of gold’.
Mr Keenan, 61, said: ‘She is determined to live beyond 100 and has done everything possible to protect herself.
‘She’s a very sociable person and it has been hard for her to lose that contact with people during the pandemic.
She has bubbled with my sister and her family in Coventry, but otherwise mum has not left her house since March, up until her admission to hospital.’
Mrs Keenan, who was widowed in 2007, will receive a booster jab in 21 days’ time to ensure she has the best chance of being protected against the virus.
NHS nurse Mrs Parsons said it was a ‘huge honour’ to be the first person in the country to deliver a Covid-19 jab to a patient.
‘The last few months have been tough for all of us working in the NHS, but now it feels like there is light at the end of the tunnel,’ she added.
Ex-doctor’s praise for NHS heroes
An 87-year-old grandfather had the jab and said it was his duty to ‘do whatever I can to help’.
Dr Hari Shukla, a former GP and race relations campaigner, heaped praise on the NHS as he and his wife Ranjan, 84, were given the jab at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.
The couple, who have four children and nine grandchildren, thanked those who have worked on the vaccine.
Dr Shukla said: ‘I don’t take this for granted because hundreds of people have worked for this vaccine day and night to make sure we got the vaccines in good time, so the lives of people can be saved.’
Dr Hari Shukla, a former GP and race relations campaigner, heaped praise on the NHS as he and his wife Ranjan, 84, were given the jab