An 87-year-old Indian-origin man from north-east England is set to become one of the first people in the world to get a COVID-19 vaccine when he receives his Pfizer/BioNTech jab at a hospital in Newcastle today.
Hari Shukla from Tyne and Wear said he feels it is his duty to receive his first of the two-dose vaccine, a moment UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed as a “huge step forward” as today was dubbed “V-Day” or Vaccine Day in the UK.
“Having been in contact with the National Health Service (NHS), I know how hard they all work and the greatest respect for them – they have a heart of gold and I am grateful for everything they have done to keep us safe during the pandemic,” said Shukla.
Shukla was notified by the NHS based on the criteria set by the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation as part of a phased rollout plan based on those at the highest risk of death from the deadly virus. People aged 80 and over, care home workers, as well as NHS workers who are at higher risk, will be first in line to receive the “life-saving jab”.
“Today marks a huge step forward in the UK’s fight against coronavirus, as we begin delivering the vaccine to the first patients across the whole country. I am immensely proud of the scientists who developed the vaccine, members of the public who took part in trials, and the NHS who have worked tirelessly to prepare for rollout,” said Johnson.
However, the UK PM struck a note of caution to warn that mass vaccination will take time and urged the public to remain “clear-eyed” and continue to follow the lockdown rules over the winter months ahead.
The NHS said it is undertaking the biggest and most highly anticipated immunisation campaign in history at 50 hospital hubs, with more starting vaccinations over the coming weeks and months as the programme ramps up after the first set of doses arrived from Pfizer’s manufacturing site in Belgium.