90-year-old UK woman first in world to get approved COVID-19 vaccine

A 90-year-old woman in the United Kingdom on Tuesday became the first person to be inoculated with Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine.

Margaret Keenan was the first to receive the vaccine as part of Britain’s mass vaccination campaign, according to Reuters.

“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 said.

Keenan got the shot at University Hospital Coventry, The Associated Press noted, one of several hospitals handling the initial phase of the U.K.’s mass vaccination program.

An 81-year-old man named William Shakespeare was the second person in the U.K. to receive the vaccine. His name quickly trended on Twitter in the U.K., with users adapting the names of the famous writer’s plays for the pandemic era.

The U.K. is the first country to deliver a broadly tested and independently reviewed vaccine to the general public, according to the AP, making it the first Western nation to begin a mass vaccination program. While Russia began vaccinating doctors and teachers on Saturday with its Sputnik V vaccine, it was authorized without rigorous testing, the news service added.

The new campaign starts roughly one week after the U.K. became the first country to approve Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine.

The first 800,000 doses for the country were reportedly transported from Belgium to government warehouses in Britain, and then to hospitals. Fifty hospitals will administer the vaccine until the government can fine-tune a plan for delivering them at nursing homes and doctor’s offices, The New York Times reported.

Nursing home residents will be vaccinated in the coming weeks, according to the Times, once the U.K. starts distributing vaccines beyond hospitals.

Meanwhile, an independent committee of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will meet to discuss Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine on Thursday, and an emergency use authorization is expected shortly after. U.S. health officials have said it anticipates only 6.4 million doses will be available before the end of the year, enough for about 3.2 million people since Pfizer’s vaccine is administered in two doses three weeks apart.

— Updated at 8:26 a.m.

Tags BioNTech Coronavirus COVID-19 Pfizer U.K.

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