History-making Coventry University student, May Parsons, has called on people from Black, Asian, or other ethnic minority communities not to miss out on their COVID-19 jab.
Senior nurse, May, became the first person in the world to deliver the vaccine to a patient outside of a clinical trial, but she knows the battle is far from over. May, who has worked in the NHS for the last 17 years, is currently undertaking a Senior Leaders Apprenticeship at Coventry University, studying MSc Global Healthcare Management within the School of Nursing Midwifery and Health.
By administering the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to 90-year-old Margaret Keenan at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) on 8th December last year, May kick-started a mammoth NHS vaccination programme that has seen her and her colleagues across the UK administer the first dose to more than 18 million people.
But there are concerns that uptake of the vaccine is lower among Black, Asian, or other ethnic minority communities and May, originally from the Philippines, is urging everyone to have the jab when it is offered.
She said: ‘I am involved in the national drive to promote the vaccination to my BAME colleagues who are, as the studies have shown, disproportionately affected by Covid.
‘I ask you to please have the vaccine if you are eligible when it’s your turn to have it. It will protect you and those you love and care about.
‘Please stick to the government guidelines. Until everyone that can have the vaccine has it, we will still have to continue to follow the rules.
‘Everyone is ready to get out of the pandemic and stop its devastation but we need your help. Let’s all play our part, save lives and help the NHS.’
May says working in the pandemic has been a mixture of emotions. She said: ‘At the start, it felt like I was going to war. I was scared but I also knew that my skills and experience were needed more than ever. It has not stopped me from volunteering and doing all I can to help.’
As well as master’s degree students like May, Coventry University has approximately 670 students working on placements at UHCW and other hospitals in Warwickshire and in Scarborough, where it also has a campus delivering healthcare degrees.
And May, who has worked at UHCW since 2003 and now manages the COVID-19 wards, says the leadership skills she has learned during her studies have helped in the fight against COVID-19. She said: ‘There have been plenty of opportunities to enact what I have learned and applied on my daily work. It’s provided me with an advantage and the skills necessary to be an effective and agile leader.’