THE NURSE who delivered the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine joined NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard at Windsor Castle on Tuesday to receive the health service’s George Cross.
May Parsons is a modern matron for respiratory services at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Trust and administered the first jab outside clinical trials to Maggie Keenan in December 2020.
NHS staff in England have since given over 125million vaccinations and saved hundreds of thousands of lives.
These vaccines included 33million boosters and 4.2million spring jabs, and NHS staff have cared for over 770,000 Covid patients in hospitals.
The George Cross was presented by The Queen, accompanied by the Prince of Wales, just a week after the NHS’ 74th birthday.
The honour recognises the ‘courage, compassion and dedication’ of staff during the pandemic.
NHS chief executive Amanda 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 last 74 years.
“The world watched when May administered the first ever covid vaccine outside of clinical trials to Maggie Keenan in Coventry a year and a half ago, kicking off the largest and most successful vaccination programme in NHS history.
“I am delighted that May joined me for this momentous occasion – it is another day for the history books for the NHS.”
May added: “It takes hundreds of thousands of us to make the NHS what it is today and I am so grateful to be part of this prestigious event on behalf of such a wonderful team of people.
“The George Cross is a fitting tribute to them all.”
This is only the third time the George Cross has been awarded to a group of people.
It was instituted in 1940 by King George VI and it is granted in recognition of ‘acts of the greatest heroism or the most courage in circumstances of extreme danger’.