90 year old Margaret Keenan, who turns 91 next week is the first person to be vaccinated in the UK vaccination rollout.
She was given the injection at 06:31 GMT – the first of 800,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine that will be given in the coming weeks. Up to four million more are expected by the end of the month.
The plan in the UK is to vaccinate over-80s and some health and care staff – the programme aims to protect the most vulnerable and return life to normal.
Matron May Parsons administered Ms Keenan’s vaccine at University Hospital in Coventry.
Ms Keenan, who is originally from Enniskillen, said: “I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against Covid-19, 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 and the NHS staff enough who have looked after me tremendously, and my advice to anyone offered the vaccine is to take it – if I can have it at 90 then you can have it too.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was “thrilled and delighted” to see Margaret get vaccinated but was also “really determined that as a country we’ve got to stick together”.
The UK is the first country in the world to start using the Pfizer vaccine after regulators approved its use last week.
Vaccination is not compulsory.
Some 800,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine have been secured by the government to be administered in the coming weeks.
Orders have been placed for 40 million in total – enough for 20 million people, as two courses are needed.
However, most of that is not expected to become available until next year, although government sources said another four million doses should arrive in the country by the end of the year.
Mr Hancock said he expected it to take “several weeks” to get the first group of health workers, care staff and over-80s vaccinated.
He added that he “very much” hoped a second vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford and drugs firm AstraZeneca, would be approved by UK regulators in the “next couple of weeks”.