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Nurse who gave first COVID-19 jab to receive George Cross

May Parsons will accept the award from the Queen on behalf of all NHS England staff for courage and heroism in the face of ‘extreme danger’

May Parsons will accept the award from the Queen on behalf of all NHS England staff for courage and heroism in the face of ‘extreme danger’

A nurse who delivered the world’s first COVID-19 jab will collect the George Cross on behalf of NHS England today .

University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust matron for respiratory services May Parsons administered the first vaccine outside of clinical trials to Maggie Keenan on 8 December 2020.

May Parsons will accept the award from the Queen on behalf of all NHS England staff for courage and heroism in the face of ‘extreme danger’

Photo of Maggie Keenan with matron May Parsons who gave her the first COVID-19 vaccination
Maggie Keenan with matron May Parsons who gave her the first COVID-19 vaccination

A nurse who delivered the world’s first COVID-19 jab will collect the George Cross on behalf of NHS England today.

University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust matron for respiratory services May Parsons administered the first vaccine outside of clinical trials to Maggie Keenan on 8 December 2020.

Queen to award George Cross to NHS staff to recognise courage during pandemic

Ms Parsons will join the NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard at Windsor Castle to receive the George Cross from the Queen on behalf of 1.5 million NHS staff in England.

‘I am humbled and honoured to be representing the NHS with Amanda when we are awarded the George Cross,’ Ms Parsons said.

‘Vaccinating Maggie with the first approved COVID-19 vaccine was a wonderful moment that I am so proud of – but that was only the beginning.

‘All of the staff in hospitals and our communities went above and beyond during the pandemic to look after patients despite the risks the virus posed. Across health and care, staff sacrificed so much to look after those in need.

‘The George Cross is a fitting tribute to them all.’

The medal recognises the ‘courage, compassion and dedication’ of staff during the pandemic and their service to the public for the past 74 years – exactly one week after the NHS’s birthday.

It is granted in recognition of ‘acts of the greatest heroism or of the most courage in circumstances of extreme danger’.

NHS staff in devolved countries to receive same honour

NHS staff have so far cared for more than 770,000 patients with COVID-19 in hospital and many more in the community as well as providing urgent and routine care for millions of people.

Ms Pritchard said: ‘May is one of hundreds of thousands of our fantastic members of staff that have served the country with compassion and dedication throughout the pandemic and over the past 74 years.’

Chief executives and front-line workers from the UK’s devolved nations will also be present to receive their award on behalf of their respective countries.


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