‘If I can do it so can you’: Grandmother who got first vaccine jab urges others to follow her lead


Margaret Keenan came into hospital last Wednesday for a routine appointment. She will be discharged later today after making history.

At 6.31am the 90-year-old grandmother-of-four became the first patient in the world to receive Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccination outside of a trial.

Mrs Keenan, who lives in Coventry but is originally from Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, was given the vaccine by nurse May Parsons at Coventry’s University Hospital.

She told Sky News she thought it was a joke when the news she would get a jab was broken to her.

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The moment Margaret Keenan became Patient A

“I couldn’t believe it. I’m happy it’s happened,” she said.

“Hopefully it will help other people do as I do. [I’m] trying to do the best to get rid of the terrible thing”.

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Mrs Keenan says she hasn’t been personally affected by the virus. But she’s been left “devastated” watching COVID-19 spread around the world, witnessing the impact it has had.

“This is a terrible a disease, we do want rid of it. Anything that helps is a bonus,” she added.

Surrounded by doctors, nurses and journalists this morning, softly spoken Margaret tried to make sense of the enormity of the occasion

“It hasn’t sunk in yet, just really, I don’t know what to say,” she said.

“Oh my word, at the moment I don’t know how I feel. So strange and so wonderful”.

Margaret Keenan, 90, speaks to the media after becoming the first patient in the United Kingdom to receive the Pfizer/BioNtech covid-19 vaccine at University Hospital, Coventry, administered by nurse May Parsons, at the start of the largest ever immunisation programme in the UK's history.
Margaret Keenan will celebrate her 91st birthday next week

As an inpatient over 80 years old, Margaret was at the top of the priority list. But she knows there are people out there who are still uncertain about the vaccine’s safety.

“This is for a good cause; I’m so pleased I’ve had it done. I’d say go for it – it’s free and it’s the best thing that has ever happened. If I can do it so can you.”

Next week Margaret celebrates her 91st birthday. She’ll come back to hospital in 21 days for the second dose of the vaccine.

“I’ll have a little rest and phone the family,” she said. “I’m going home this afternoon. And the hospital are wonderful. I’m going to miss them really – all the attention I’ve been getting.

“I’m looking forward to Christmas. I didn’t think I’d be getting home so soon. I’ll see what happens in the new year.”

It’s a birthday and a Christmas that Margaret and the rest of the world will never forget.

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