British patients over the age of 80 took the COVID-19 jab in the thousands on Tuesday during the first day of mass vaccination. Seventy UK hospitals launched a nationwide drive to inject mostly the elderly population of the country as well as care home staff and NHS workers.
Margaret Keenan was the first patient in the world to be given the coronavirus jab outside of vaccine trials.
She told the BBC: “My advice to anyone offered the vaccine is to take it.
“If I can have it at 90, then you can have it too.”
Ms Keenan turns 91 next week and said the vaccine was “the best early birthday present I could wish for”.
She added: “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.”
Ms Keenan said she felt “so privileged” to be the first person in the world to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Lyn Wheeler, 81, was given the Pfizer vaccine in front of Boris Johnson at Guy’s Hospital in London.
She told the Prime Minister: “It’s all for Britain. I’m going for it because I feel there’s no other way forward. We can’t keep sitting in our houses.”
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Health Secretary Matt Hancock has promised to provide millions more before Christmas.
Writing on Twitter, Mr Hancock said: “Today marks the fightback against our common enemy: #coronavirus.
“While there is much to celebrate, we mustn’t blow it – we must all play our part in suppressing the virus until the vaccine can make us safe.”
On Tuesday night, NHS staff were reportedly told they would receive either 1.2 million or 1.6 million doses of the Pfizer jab next week.
The UK became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine last week.
The country’s medicines regulator, the MHRA, said the jab was safe to be rolled out.
Hospitals became the first place to distribute the Pfizer vaccine as they have the facilities to store the doses at -70C.
On Tuesday, the UK recorded a further new 616 coronavirus related deaths within 28 days of a positive test.
It brought the countries total coronavirus death toll to 62,033, according to official data.
So far more than 1.7 million COVID-19 cases have been reported in the UK.