Margaret Keenan, who turns 91 next week, said the injection she received at 06:31 GMT was the “best early birthday present”.
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Senior NHS sources told the BBC “thousands of vaccinations” had taken place across the UK on Tuesday.
Dubbing the day “V-day”, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was “a tribute to scientific endeavour and human ingenuity and to the hard work of so many people.
“Today marks the start of the fightback against our common enemy, the coronavirus,” he said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, on a visit to a London hospital to see some of the first people getting the jab, said getting vaccinated was “good for you and good for the whole country”.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“Today we should all allow ourselves a smile – but we must not drop our guard.”
On Tuesday, the UK government reported a further 616 people had died within 28 days of a positive test, taking the total, by that measure, to 62,033. A further 12,282 people tested positive for the virus.
At University Hospital, Coventry, matron May Parsons administered the very first injection to Ms Keenan.
“I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against Covid-19,” said Ms Keenan, who is originally from Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh.
“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.
“My advice to anyone offered the vaccine is to take it. If I can have it at 90, then you can have it too,” she added.
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