RACE RELATIONS campaigner Dr Hari Shukla became one of the first people in the world to get a vaccine against Covid-19 when he received his first of two Pfizer/BioNTech jab at a hospital in Newcastle on Tuesday(8).

“I’m so pleased we are hopefully coming towards the end of this pandemic and I am delighted to be doing my bit by having the vaccine, I feel it is my duty to do so and do whatever I can to help,” said Indian-origin Dr Shukla,87, from Tyne and Wear.

“Having been in contact with the National Health Service (NHS), I know how hard they all work. I have the greatest respect for them. They have a heart of gold and I am grateful for everything they have done to keep us safe during the pandemic.”

Dr Shukla reached the hospital with his wife Ranju to receive the vaccine. 

He was notified by the NHS based on the criteria set by the UK’s joint committee on Vaccination and Immunisation as part of a phased rollout plan based on those at the highest risk of death from the deadly virus.

People aged 80 and over, care home workers as well as NHS workers who are at higher risk will be first in line to receive the ‘life-saving jab’.

The NHS said that it is undertaking the biggest and most highly anticipated immunisation campaign in history at 50 hospital hubs, with more starting vaccinations over the coming weeks and months as the programme ramps up after the first set of doses arrived from Pfizer’s manufacturing site in Belgium.

Since the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine got the green light from the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) last week, the NHS said its workers have been working around the clock to manage the large-scale logistical challenge of deploying the vaccine.

Vaccination centres treating large numbers of patients in sporting venues and conference centres will subsequently start up when further supplies of vaccine come on stream. A bulk of the rollout expected in the early part of 2021.