London — U.K (DT) health authorities began rolling out the first doses of a widely tested and independently reviewed Covid-19 vaccine on Tuesday, starting a global immunization program that is expected to gain momentum as more serums win approval. The first shot came early in the morning at one of a network of hospital hubs around the country where the initial phase of the U.K. program will be rolled out on what has been dubbed “V-Day.”
Public health officials are asking the public to be patient because only those who are most at risk from the new coronavirus will be vaccinated in the early stages. Medical staff will contact people to arrange appointments, and most will have to wait until next year before there is enough vaccine to expand the program.
The first 800,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in the U.K. are going to people over 80 who are either hospitalized or already have outpatient appointments scheduled, along with nursing home workers. Others will have to wait their turn, but all vaccinations will be provided free of charge via Britain’s National Health Service.
Among those older Britons scheduled to get vaccinated is Hari Shukla, of Newcastle.
“When I received the telephone call, I was very excited I got the opportunity of joining in and taking part in that,″ he said. “So we are very very pleased and happy and excited as well.″
Buckingham Palace refused to comment on reports that Queen Elizabeth II, 94, and her 99-year-old husband, Prince Philip, would be vaccinated as a public example of its safety.