Hari Shukla, and his wife Ranjan at a hospital in Newcastle, England. (Image source: twitter)
An 87-year-old man, Hari Shukla and his 83-year-old wife, Ranjan from the northeast of England became the first Indian-origin couple in the world to get a vaccine against Covid-19 on Tuesday after they got injected with their first of two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab at a hospital in Newcastle.
Dr Hari Shukla, who has been honoured with an MBE, OBE and CBE for his work as the Director of the Tyne and Wear Race Equality Council over the years, had been contacted by the National Health Service (NHS) as he fits into the criteria set for the world’s first vaccine by the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation based on those at the highest risk of death from the deadly virus. His wife, Ranjan, then volunteered for the jab as she also falls within the first phase of people aged 80 and over, care home workers as well as NHS workers at high risk eligible to receive the “life-saving jab,” reported The Times of India.
“Hari Shukla and his wife Ranjan have become the first two patients at Newcastle Hospitals – and two of the first people in the world – to receive the Covid-19 vaccine,” Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said.
Shukla, who was born in Kenya and whose father hailed from Mumbai, said he had been waiting for the vaccine for a long time. “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.”
The 87-year-old also lauded experts for their work to find a vaccine against the coronavirus. “Having been in contact with the NHS staff, I know how hard they all work and I am grateful for everything they have done to keep us safe during the pandemic.” He said that he has been following the news and the scientists have done a wonderful job, “I have no doubt in my mind they are the best in the world.”
With this, the couple joined 90-year-old Margaret “Maggie” Keenan from Coventry and 81-year-old William Shakespeare from Warwickshire who was the first and the second person respectively to receive the shots.