One of the UK’s first coronavirus vaccine recipients is William Shakespeare

·4-min read

Watch: William Shakespeare becomes second recipient of Covid jab

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coronavirus latest news

One of the first people in the UK to get the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine is called William Shakespeare.

COVID-19 jabs are being administered at dozens of UK hospital hubs for the first time on Tuesday in a landmark moment of the pandemic.

Health secretary Matt Hancock has dubbed it “V-Day” as care home workers and those aged 80 and over start to be vaccinated as part of a major programme.

It comes after the UK became country in the world to approve the Pfizer vaccine last week

At the weekend, doses began arriving at UK hospitals from the US, where the vaccine was developed.

The first jabs were given at University Hospital in Coventry early on Tuesday morning and the second patient to receive the vaccine was 81-year-old William “Bill” Shakespeare.

Mr Shakespeare, an in-patient on the hospital’s frailty wards, is local to his namesake’s county of birth, Warwickshire.

Read: Britons will be able to go on holiday next summer after vaccine rollout, says taskforce chief

He said he was “pleased” to be given the jab, adding: “I need to say, the staff at this hospital are wonderful.”

The 81-year-old was given the injection after grandmother-of-four Margaret Keenan, 90, who was the first person to get the jab.

Keenan, who has lived in Coventry for six decades but is originally from Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, was given the vaccine by nurse May Parsons at 6.31am.

"Bill" William Shakespeare, 81, receives the Pfizer/BioNTech covid-19 vaccine at University Hospital, Coventry, at the start of the largest ever immunisation programme in the UK's history.
William 'Bill' Shakespeare, 81, receives the Pfizer/BioNTech covid-19 vaccine at University Hospital, Coventry. (PA)

She said being the first was "a privilege" and "the best early birthday present I could wish for" as it would mean she could spend time with her family and friends in the New Year "after being on my own for most of the year".

Keenan thanked the nurse and other NHS staff for looking after her "tremendously".

She added: "My advice to anyone offered the vaccine is to take it - if I can have it at 90 then you can have it too!"

Watch: The first vaccines are administered in the UK

The grandmother, who worked as a jewellery shop assistant until only four years ago, will receive a booster jab in 21 days to ensure she has the best chance of being protected against the virus.

Hancock said he felt "quite emotional" watching Keenan have the vaccination as he did the morning news round.

"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," the health secretary told Sky News.

"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.

Margaret Keenan, 90, is applauded by staff as she returns to her ward after becoming the first person in the United Kingdom to receive the Pfizer/BioNtech covid-19 vaccine at University Hospital, Coventry, at the start of the largest ever immunisation programme in the UK's history.
Margaret Keenan, 90, is applauded by staff as she returns to her ward after becoming the first person in the UK to receive the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine. (PA)

"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."

Hancock also said that the UK is to take delivery of “several million” doses of the Pfizer vaccine before the end of this month.

Nurse Parsons said it was a "huge honour" to be the first in the country to deliver the vaccine to a patient.

She added: "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."

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The government has secured 40 million doses of the vaccine, which needs to be refrigerated at -70C (-94F).

Studies have shown the Pfizer/BioNTech jab is 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 and works in all age groups.

The highly-anticipated vaccine rollout this week comes after more than 61,000 deaths from a virus that has ravaged the UK as well as the rest of the world - with more than 1.5 million fatalities recorded globally.

Watch: Matt Hancock is visibly emotional as he talks about the first COVID vaccinations