Keralite nurses witness to maiden COVID vaccination in UK hospital

Margaret Keenan, 90, is applauded by staff as she returns to her ward after becoming the first person in Britain to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at University Hospital. Nibu Cyriac (right) is also seen. Photo: Jacob King/Pool via Reuters

Kottayam: Three Keralites were also part of the historic moment as the mass COVID-19 vaccination programme, hailed as 'V-Day', began in Britain on Tuesday.

Margaret Keenan, 90, received the first shot of the vaccine at the Coventry University Hospital in central England at 6.45am (GMT) on Tuesday.

Kottayam natives Beena John, Nibu Cyriac and Swapna work at this hospital.

Chethipuzha native Beena John was in charge of the nursing wing of the 40th ward at the hospital, where Margaret was admitted.

Beena said Margaret was capable of doing things on her own and has a good memory. "She had earlier taken the flu vaccine. This was another reason why Margaret was chosen for the first dose of COVID vaccine," Beena stated.

"After vaccination, Margaret was brought back straight to the ward. She left the hospital the other day. She has to take the next dose after 21 days," Beena added.

Nursing assistant Nibu Cyriac of Ramapuram was on duty at the same ward, while nurse Swapna of Chingavanam was on duty at the next ward.

The vaccination drive began with the rollout of an anti-Covid vaccine in Britain. It has been developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.

Keralite nurses witness to maiden COVID vaccination in UK hospital
Margaret Keenan is the first patient in Britain to receive the Pfizer/BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine at University Hospital, administered by nurse May Parsons, at the start of the largest ever immunisation programme in the British history, in Coventry, Britain December 8, 2020. Photo: Jacob King/Pool via Reuters

Beena has been working at the hospital for 20 years, and lives with her family at Coventry. Peter is her husband, and their children are Veena and Vaiga. Margaret too lives in Coventry.

Swapna has also been in Britain for 20 years. "This is the first such experience in my nursing career. And I am happy to be part of this historic moment," Swapna said.

Swapna's husband Biju is from Chingavanam, while Swapna's house is at Ponkunnam. Biju runs a business in Britain. Jake, Kevin and Lena are their children. This family too resides at Coventry

Nibu is happy over this unexpected fame that came his way. When Margaret was brought outside after receiving the vaccine, the hospital staff had greeted her with applause. This photograph was carried on the front page of all newspapers in Britain.

Swapna and Nibu can also be seen in the photo. Several people had telephoned him after seeing his photo in the newspaper, Nibu said.

Nibu and his family also live in Coventry. His wife Suma is also a nurse. Alphy, Aby, and Alexa are their children.

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