Filipina nurse administers first COVID-19 vaccine in UK

Filipina nurse May Parsons administers the COVID-19 vaccine to 90-year-old grandmother Margaret Keenan, the world’s first person to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine outside a clinical trial, on Tuesday, December 8, 2020, in Coventry, central England. | Photo by National Health Service

A Filipina nurse was part of history this week as she administered the first COVID-19 vaccine outside of clinical trials to a 90-year-old woman in the United Kingdom.

National Health Service (NHS) nurse May Parsons on Tuesday, December 8, administered the vaccine to Margaret Keenan, the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine after its clinical approval in the country.

“It’s a huge honor to be the first person in the country to deliver a COVID-19 jab to a patient,” Parsons said in a statement released by NHS.

“I’m just glad that I’m able to play a part in this historic day. 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.

Following Keenan, an 81-year-old man named William Shakespeare was the second individual to receive the vaccine.

In an interview with “Good Morning Britain,” the Filipina nurse said she was proud to participate in a step toward curbing COVID-19.

“I’m really glad to be telling all the Filipinos in the country and in the world that we can make a difference,” Parsons said, continuing “It’s a historical event for Filipinos all across the globe for making sure we are proud of what we’ve achieved…and the care that we give.”

“I’m very proud to say to everyone that I’m a British-Filipino today, making history,” she added.

Parsons, a Filipina migrant, has been working in the UK’s NHS for the past 24 years now.

She inoculated the vaccine to Keenan at a local hospital in Coventry.

Keenan, for her part, expressed her gratitude for the Filipina nurse as well as the NHS staff for their service.

“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 said in a separate statement released by the NHS.

“I can’t thank May and the NHS staff enough who have looked after me tremendously, and my advice to anyone offered the vaccine is to take it – if I can have it at 90, then you can have it too!” added Keenan.

In a tweet, British Ambassador to the Philippines and Palau Daniel Pruce called the event a “fantastic moment.”

“A fantastic moment! And great to see that the vaccine is administered by Nurse May Parsons from the Philippines – one of the many thousands of Filipino healthcare workers making such an enormous contribution to the #NHS,” he wrote.

The UK is the first country to start a mass vaccination campaign in the world. It has secured 40 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine after clinical trials showed an efficacy rate of 94% against SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is moving ahead with its process to determine whether to provide emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s vaccine.

On Tuesday, the FDA announced that its review found the vaccine to be safe and effective after one dose.

According to Dr. Greg Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group in Rochester, Minnesota, he could “see absolutely no reason why this emergency use authorization would not be granted.”

If granted the EUA, the first round of vaccine rollout in the U.S. is expected to be distributed within days.

The Philippines, on the other hand, is waiting for a number of vaccines to be evaluated by the country’s FDA for use in the country. It recently signed a tripartite agreement for two million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine with the help of the private sector, and plans to acquire 20 million more doses using public money.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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