December 8, 2020: Margaret Keenan, 90, is applauded by staff as she returns to her ward after becoming the first person in the United Kingdom to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at University Hospital at the start of the largest ever immunization program in the UK’s history in Coventry. (Photo courtesy Getty Images)
Fully vaccinated people should wear masks in any indoor setting where there are large groups of people whose vaccination status is unknown. Put on a mask when entering a grocery store, a crowded bar or restaurant, when using public transportation, or when attending an indoor event where staying greater than six feet apart is not possible. Those are potential areas of high transmission. Also, before travel, check the CDC website to see if where you’re going has a high Covid-19 infection rate. In those areas, always wear a mask unless you’re outdoors or indoors with family and friends whom you know are all vaccinated. Regardless of region, always wear a mask when you enter any health care or senior care facility.
— University of Washington School of Medicine microbiology professor Deborah Fuller, Phd.
DO you remember Margaret Keenan from Enniskillen in County Fermanagh, Ireland?
It’s been a year since the 91-year-old grandmother made the headlines when she became the first person in the world to receive a Covid vaccine more than a year ago today on December 8, 2020.
Keenan received her Pfizer jab at the University Hospital in Coventry, where she’s lived for the past several decades. And in marking the one-year anniversary of that historic event, she returned to UHCW to meet with May Parsons, the Filipina nurse who administered her historic ‘pandemic jab’.
According to Keenan, “It was such a privilege and an honor to be the first person vaccinated against Covid-19, everything went by in a blur. I’m not sure it will ever truly sink in. The staff at University Hospital, Coventry, showed me such wonderful care and compassion and I am so pleased to have remained friends with May since that day.”
The grandma enthused that getting the vaccine gave her confidence to go out to places instead of having herself cooped inside her flat in fear of contracting the virus. She described having the vaccine as saving lives, protecting those around us, and helping the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS).
This is the reason why she now advises people: “What more can I say—go for it, go and have it done.”
Keenan further told the Press Association: “It’s amazing how many people don’t want it.
“I don’t know why because they should have it . . . everybody should have the jab.”
She added: “I hope I’m a good example, skipping down the road.”
The same day that Keenan received her jab in Coventry last year, Joanna Sloan, a 28-year-old nurse from Co Down, became the first person in Northern Ireland—and the first person on the island of Ireland—to receive the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine.
Later, on December 29, 2020, 79-year-old Annie Lynch became the first person in Ireland to receive the jab.
A year on from the initial Covid vaccine roll-out, more than 8.2 billion vaccine doses have been administered around the world, according to today’s data from Johns Hopkins University.
In Northern Ireland, 3,149,534 vaccine doses have been administered to date, and in Ireland, 7,531,396 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have been administered to date.
However, in spite of Keenan’s overture and the countless others who are now advocating for people to be inoculated and protected against Covid-19, there are still a number of people who have doubts about the vaccines, their efficacy, their side effects, and many other concerns and apprehension. So much like here in the Philippines where many of our countrymen are still hesitant or reluctant to get their vaccine shots.
Little do they realize the benefits of being vaccinated and at peace because you have lessened the fear of getting the coronavirus and getting sick critically.
Still, we must be reminded that it’s not enough to be vaccinated because following health safety protocols is equally an integral part of protecting ourselves from infection and preventing the further spread of the deadly disease.
Yet complacency is also seeping in among our fellow Filipinos and they are growing complacent because of the easing of restrictions and preventive measures like wearing face masks and practicing social distancing.
It’s funny to note—or ironic—that a 66-year-old Irish grandmother was jailed once again due to her refusal to wear a face mask. Margaret Buttimer from County Cork has been jailed for breaching bail conditions after she was caught shopping for Christmas presents without a face covering. Last month, Ms. Buttimer was ordered by a District Court judge to stay away from shops and other places where the public gathers because of her refusal to wear a mask under Covid-19 rules.
It was reported by The Irish Times that Ms. Buttimer told Judge Colm Roberts that she went into a store “to do my Christmas shopping because I have nothing got for Christmas”. She said that she needed to buy presents for her grandchildren. She said she did not shop online and refused to wear a face mask because she felt it was “taking from my freedom.”
How about that . . . ?