The first person in the world to get the new Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is a 90-year-old native of Enniskillen, while the first person in Northern Ireland to get the jab is a 28-year-old nurse.
As the rollout of the vaccine began across Northern Ireland and Britain on Tuesday morning, the first administration of the vaccine happened in England where Margaret Keenan, who turns 91 next week, was immunised. Enniskillen woman Mrs Keenan, who only retired from job in a jewelers four years ago, was vaccinated in a hospital in Coventry at 6.31am.
Mrs Keenan, a native of Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, said it was the “best early present” she could have received. The vaccine was administered by May Parsons, Matron at Coventry Hospital.
“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.”
Not long after that first vaccination, at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, Joanna Sloan, a nurse who will be in charge of the vaccination programme in Belfast, received the vaccine just after 8am.
Ms Sloan, a mother of a five-year-old daughter, said she felt emotional and proud to be part of history.
Ms Sloan said she found out on Friday that she would be the first to receive the vaccine in Northern Ireland. She said she felt “privileged”.
Ms Sloan is engaged, but her wedding was postponed due to Covid-19. She is due to get married in April next year.Joanna Sloan becomes the first person in Northern Ireland to receive the first of two Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine jabs, at the Royal Victoria Hospital, in Belfast. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
“I feel privileged and honoured and a little bit emotional that we have got here – very, very grateful,” said Ms Sloan, who is from Dundrum, Co Down.
“Through everything that healthcare workers [went through], either in hospital or [the] community – people themselves losing family members, us losing colleagues – it felt like it was a huge moment and that this was and could possibly be the final hurdle in the fight against Covid,” she added.
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For the latest information on the Covid-19 Vaccine Programme, please visit hse.ie/covid-19-vaccine