LONDON—The U.K. became the first Western country to start distributing a Covid-19 vaccine to its population, rolling out a mass inoculation program that could provide a template for other countries, including the U.S., of the practicalities and potential pitfalls of vaccinating at speed and scale.
Less than a week after Britain granted emergency-use authorization for the shots developed by Pfizer Inc. and Germany’s BioNTech SE , the first people earmarked for the vaccine began to receive it across the U.K. on Tuesday.
Those over 80 years old, nursing-home workers and other high-risk health-care staff were front of the line: a group estimated to number six million. The rollout is being paid for by the U.K.’s state-funded National Health Service.
Ninety-year-old Maggie Keenan was the first to receive the vaccine as part of the program, according to the NHS.
“It’s history and the best thing that’s ever happened. If I can do it, so can you,” she said at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire, central England, after receiving the shot.