(Art by Athea Monique Z. Gala/ The Varsitarian)

What does it take to be the first female anything? According to American actress Meryl Streep, it takes grit, and it takes grace.

The same is true for May Parsons, a UST alumna, who was the first nurse to administer a Covid-19 vaccine.

Parsons obtained her nursing degree from the University in 2000. Two decades later, she was tapped to take one of the world’s first steps in defeating the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I was the first to get signed off as competent to vaccinate for Covid in preparation for the rollout. I was asked to vaccinate on Dec. 3 and completed my training on Dec. 4. I gave the [first] Covid-19  vaccine on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020, at 6:31 a.m.,” she told the Varsitarian.

After graduating and passing the licensure examination for nurses, Parsons became a scrub nurse at the UST Charity Division. 

After working at the UST Hospital for three years, she moved to the United Kingdom in 2003. She continued her work as a scrub nurse for the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust in Rugby, Warwickshire and later became a post-anesthesia care unit nurse.

Now, she is a modern matron or department head of a UHCW ward where she attends to clients suffering from respiratory problems and infectious diseases.

Parsons said that administering the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine dose—a Pfizer-BioNTech shot given to 91-year-old Margaret Keenan—was both an honor and an achievement.

“I felt truly honored that my hard work and vaccine advocacy have been well and truly recognized,” she said.

“We don’t nurse to be famous or rich. We nurse because we care and that is my contribution to humanity. I see nursing and the care and passion I deliver it with as a way of building my home in God’s paradise. Every good deed symbolizes every brick in my home with the Lord,” she added. 

To date, about 3.4 billion vaccine doses have been administered worldwide.

“I felt very hopeful for our future, as an Asian woman, to be given the task and praying I did it justice. I wanted to make everyone proud of our accomplishments, from the researchers to our vaccine trial volunteers, to the delivery people to the vaccinators. I felt an enormous responsibility in opening the door for our way out of the pandemic,” Parsons said. Jade Veronique V. Yap


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