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Much Relief In The U.K. As Inoculations Against COVID-19 Begin

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Yesterday was an emotional day, filled with a lot of relief for people in the United Kingdom. The nation began distributing a COVID-19 vaccine. As we reported yesterday, 90-year-old grandmother Margaret Keenan made history as the first to be given the vaccine.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARGARET KEENAN: All done?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: All done.

KEENAN: All right.

(APPLAUSE)

NOEL KING, HOST:

She thought it was a joke when the hospital staff told her she'd be the first. But Keenan, who turns 91 next week, said it was basically the best birthday present ever.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KEENAN: At the moment, I don't know how to feel. It's just so strange and so wonderful, really. Yeah. So this is for a good cause, so I'm so pleased I have it done (ph).

GREENE: You know, health care workers were also among those to receive the shot. Matthew Morgan is an intensive care unit doctor in Wales. He spoke to NPR's All Things Considered and described his feeling at the hospital.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

MATTHEW MORGAN: It's been an odd mood in many ways. It's kind of a combination of feeling proud, hopeful, but also realistic. And I say proud because it was 38 weeks to the day that we admitted the first critically ill patient with COVID to our ICU. And it's remarkable to think that in less than the duration of a pregnancy, 38 weeks, we now have gone from that to actually having a vaccine. And that's a remarkable achievement for science, for medicine and humanity, really.

KING: Another vaccinee, Aubrey Bass, who is 96 years old - he talked to the BBC about his very bad year.

(SOUNDBITE OF BBC BROADCAST)

AUBREY BASS: It's been the worst year of my life. I'm sorry. My wife died in March, so it's been very bad.

KING: Bass has been isolating since then, and he's been very lonely. So when he got the call asking if he wanted to be vaccinated, he was over the moon.

GREENE: And he's now looking forward to hopefully seeing his two great-grandchildren next year. He says that will be marvelous.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.