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Margaret Keenan, 90, is applauded by staff as she returns to her ward after becoming the first patient in the UK to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, at University Hospital, Coventry, England, Dec. 8, 2020.
Jacob King/Pool/AP
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This 90-Year-Old UK Grandmother Is the First Person in the World to Get the Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine

Why Global Citizens Should Care 
Global Goal 3 aims for good health and well-being to be accessible to all, and that includes ensuring universal access to vaccinations. COVID-19 has disrupted the world and undermined progress on all of the Global Goals, so this vaccine news is nothing short of absolutely brilliant. There is still so much to do, however, to make sure that COVID-19 vaccines reach everyone around the world equitably. Find out more and take action to help ensure that everyone has access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines here

It was an image that captured a historic moment: a 90-year-old woman from Coventry, rolling up the sleeves of her Christmas jumper featuring an extremely jolly penguin, exhibiting maximum chill as she officially received the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech, at 6.45 a.m. on Tuesday.

"It hasn't sunk in yet," Margaret Keenan said, about receiving the vaccine. "At the moment I don't know how I feel, just so strange and so wonderful really."

After receiving the vaccine, the former jewelry shop assistant — who only retired four years ago — was given a guard of honour by clapping nurses and doctors at her local hospital. 

"Hopefully it'll help other people come along and do what I did, and try and do the best to get rid of this terrible thing,” Keenan added. She’ll turn 91 next week — and after a year spent mostly on her own, she’s excited to start seeing her family again in 2021.

The UK became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on Dec. 2 — a jab that has been proven to be 95% effective against the virus. 

People like Keenan, who are over the age of 80, will be the first to receive the vaccine, alongside health workers and care home residents. The first 800,000 doses are being rolled out right now, while millions more are expected to arrive in the coming weeks. 

It’s poetry in motion for a world worn down by a year of isolation and suffering — all the more so, considering the second person to get the vaccine was one William Shakespeare, an 81-year-old also from Coventry. 

Related Stories Dec. 2, 2020 The UK Just Approved Historic COVID-19 Vaccine to Roll Out in Coming Days

It’s the fastest a vaccine has ever been developed in human history. The previous record was four years, held by the mumps vaccine developed in the 1960s, while most tend to take over a decade. 

There’s two big reasons why it’s happened so quickly, without skipping any steps on safety. Firstly, there were no issues with funding. While most vaccines are held up by funding applications, billions have been poured into over 150 different COVID-19 vaccine projects worldwide.

And unlike ever before, the world truly came together. The genetic code for COVID-19 was shared by Chinese scientists in January, and on everything from manufacturing to testing, there have been unprecedented displays of global cooperation across the board.

After the first injection, it takes 12 days before immunity begins building. You get a second dose after 21 days before full immunity takes effect at 28 days. Nationwide restrictions will likely still stay in place for several months as the vaccine is slowly distributed and more doses are procured.

You can learn more about how vaccines are developed here. In the meantime, here’s how some people reacted to the jubilant news.