History was made on Tuesday when 90-year-old Margaret Keenan received a dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, the first non-trial administration. The vaccine, approved less than a year after the disease was discovered, is now the first part in what will be an unprecedented healthcare effort and, all told, one of humanity’s all-time most remarkable scientific achievements.
Keenan will turn 91 next week and says she’s looking forward to going outside again. “I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against COVID-19,” she told NHS. “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.”
“I can’t thank May [Keenan’s nurse] and the NHS staff enough who have looked after me tremendously, and my advice to anyone offered the vaccine is to take it,” she continued. “If I can have it at 90 then you can have it too!”
After Keenan, a 91-year-old British man named William Shakespeare (not kidding!) became the second person to receive the vaccine.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., the FDA has tested Pfizer’s vaccine, saying it’s safe and effective after one dose. Dr. Greg Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group in Rochester, Minnesota, told NBC News he saw no reason that the FDA wouldn’t grant emergency approval to the vaccine. In November, Pfizer said their own testing had shown the vaccine is 95 percent effective, and that its effectiveness held across all age groups, racial and ethnic minorities and people with underlying conditions. Potential side effects are very rare and very minor, limited to normal reactions like headaches and fatigue. Frontline healthcare workers and nursing home residents are likely to have top priority for the vaccine.