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Doctor and local hero, 87, tells of his pride at being first in line to receive coronavirus vaccine 

The local hero who is first in line for Covid-19 jab: Doctor and dedicated equality campaigner, 87, tells of his pride at being among first patients to receive coronavirus vaccine

  • Hari Shukla, 87, and his wife Ranjan, 83, will be given the Pfizer jab on Tuesday
  • Dr Shukla will be one of the first people in the world to be given Covid-19 vaccine
  • He has a ‘local hero’ plaque in his name and an OBE for his race relations work 

Pictured: Dr Hari Shukla will become one of the first people in the world to be given a coronavirus vaccine

With a ‘local hero’ plaque in his name and an OBE for his race relations work in his home city of Newcastle, Hari Shukla has long been one of life’s trailblazers.

So it seems fitting that he will become one of the first people in the world to be given a coronavirus vaccine today.

Dr Shukla, 87, and his wife Ranjan, 83, will both be given the Pfizer jab at Newcastle’s Royal Infirmary.

The Ugandan-born retired teacher said: ‘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.

‘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.’

Having moved to the city in 1974, Mr Shukla has spent much of his life promoting race relations both as a volunteer and professionally.

Dr Shukla, 87, (right) and his wife Ranjan, 83, (left) will both be given the Pfizer jab at Newcastle's Royal Infirmary

Dr Shukla, 87, (right) and his wife Ranjan, 83, (left) will both be given the Pfizer jab at Newcastle’s Royal Infirmary

He became director of the Tyne and Wear Racial Equality Council and worked tirelessly for three decades trying to ease tensions between communities.

Britain is the worst-hit European country from the pandemic, with over 61,000 deaths from COVID-19, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes to turn the tide against the disease by rolling out the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine before the United States or European Union.

‘It’s a big relief, because it’s not an ordinary crisis,’ Dr Shukla said. 

About 800,000 doses are expected to be available within the first week, with care home residents and carers, the over 80s and some health service workers the top priority to receive the shots.

Britain is the worst-hit European country from the pandemic, with over 61,000 deaths from COVID-19, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes to turn the tide against the disease by rolling out the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine before the United States or European Union (file photo)

Britain is the worst-hit European country from the pandemic, with over 61,000 deaths from COVID-19, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes to turn the tide against the disease by rolling out the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine before the United States or European Union (file photo)

The mass inoculation programme could fuel optimism the world may be turning a corner in the fight against the pandemic that has crushed global economies and killed more than 1.5 million people.

Dr Shukla paid tribute to those who had worked day and night on producing the shot and rolling it out at unprecedented speed.

He said: ‘We are very grateful to them, and also proud of them that they have done that.

‘I’m not nervous, or anything like that. I’m looking forward.’

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