Filipina nurse who administered world’s 1st COVID-19 vaccine receives Queen Elizabeth award

May Parsons Queen Elizabeth award
May Parsons receives the George Cross on behalf of her colleagues at the National Health Service (NHS) in England. Photos from The Royal Family FB, May Parsons IG.

Filipina nurse May Parsons, who administered the world’s first approved COVID-19 vaccine, has received the prestigious George Cross award from Queen Elizabeth II on behalf of the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS).

Parsons attended the recent awarding ceremony held at Windsor Castle with NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard to represent the 1.5 million staff working for the national health service in England.

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The UK-based Filipino nurse for respiratory services was among the recipients of the George Cross medal, the United Kingdom’s highest award for non-military courage that has only been bestowed collectively twice by Queen Elizabeth II.

The Modern Matron for Respiratory Services at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Trust said that she felt honored to represent her colleagues in the national health service.

“It was a real privilege to be asked to join Amanda today, and be chosen to represent the countless members of NHS staff – my colleagues – who have gone over and above, not just during the pandemic but throughout the more than seven decades of health service history,” May Parsons said in the NHS England news release on July 12, 2022.

The University of Santo Tomas (UST) alumna made history after administering the world’s first approved COVID-19 vaccine to 90-year-old Margaret Keenan in December 2020. The significant moment marked the official launch of the UK’s mass coronavirus immunization program.

Originally from the Philippines, Parsons worked for 17 years in the NHS and has been at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire since 2003. She obtained her nursing degree from UST in 2000 and worked at the university hospital before moving to the United Kingdom, according to The Varsitarian.

“Getting to deliver the first vaccine to Maggie just a year and a half ago was such a significant moment, that made me so proud of everything we do as healthcare staff, and today is yet another truly once-in-a-lifetime experience for me,” Parsons continued.

“I am so humbled by the lovely messages I have received from people up and down the country, and to meet the Queen herself – this is definitely a day I will never forget!” Parsons adds.

The George Cross recognizes the “courage, compassion and dedication” of the health service, NHS England said in a tweet.

https://twitter.com/NHSEngland/status/1546903961575297025?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1546903961575297025%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.rappler.com%2Fnation%2Foverseas-filipinos%2Fnurse-represents-united-kingdom-health-workers-receive-courage-award-queen-elizabeth%2F

Instituted in 1940, the George Cross is the UK’s highest civilian gallantry award and is equivalent to the military Victoria Cross. It sits at the top of the UK’s honors system, jointly with the Victoria Cross, and is given for acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger.

More UK tributes to Filipino nurses include the British Empire Medal which was awarded to nurses Minnie Klepacz and Charito Leonardo-Romano for their work during the Covid-19 pandemic.

SEND CHEERS in the comments below to Filipina nurse May Parsons for receiving the George Cross award from Queen Elizabeth II on behalf of the National Health Service (NHS) in England!

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Margo is a voracious reader - some might even say she reads too much for her own good. She majored in BS Psychology and hopes to become a forensic psychologist one day. She’s also an aspiring writer, mental health advocate, and a staunch believer of equality.