News & Opinion | December 8, 2020 10:20 am

William Shakespeare Is First Man to Get Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine as UK Rollout Starts

The UK started distributing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to its population today

William Shakespeare Is First Man to Get Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine
A nurse adminsters the Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine to patient William "Bill" Shakespeare.
POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The first person to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine outside of a clinical trial as the United Kingdom began its rollout today was a 90-year-old woman named Margaret Keenan.

“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,” Keenan said. “My advice to anyone offered the vaccine is to take it – if I can have it at 90 then you can have it too.”

The first man to get the vaccine? Billy Shakespeare.

The vaccine, which is being given to elder-care home workers and people over 80 first, was administered to 81-year-old William “Bill” Shakespeare at University Hospital Coventry in the UK.

Forty million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is enough to vaccinate 20 million people, have been ordered by the UK. That’s enough doses to vaccinate about one-third of the country’s population. About 4 million doses of the vaccine are expected to be delivered to the UK government by the end of December.

“Today is just the first step in the largest vaccination program this country has ever seen,” said NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens. “It will take some months to complete the work as more vaccine supplies become available and until then we must not drop our guard. But if we all stay vigilant in the weeks and months ahead, we will be able to look back at this as a decisive turning point in the battle against the virus.”

In the U.S., the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee is expected to meet on December 10 to decide whether to grant the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine emergency approval. China and Russia have already started vaccinating.