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First jab

You can perhaps say it was destiny that brought her to this path in her life. But more importantly, it was her grit and hard work.




illustration by glenzkie tolo

May Parsons, a United Kingdom-based Filipina nurse, made history as the first to administer the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.

Her deft hands ­— perhaps embodying the world-renowned care of Filipinos — injected the vaccine with a reported 95 percent efficacy to the 90-year-old Margaret Keenan, the vaccine’s first recipient.

The Filipina beauty, May Parsons.

As part of the University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trusts’ flu jab program, she has set the record for most vaccinations given by a single individual for three consecutive years. “I’ve managed to do 140 vaccinations in a day by myself.

We celebrate it as a team though!” she has said in past interviews.

Remember this was the first not just in their own hospital nor country — but the entire world.

In fact, Great Britain was the first to approve and greenlight the much-awaited rollout.

May did not discover she was the chosen one until the day prior.

Birthday Girl poses with neighbor Teresa.

Immediately, she spent extra additional time to build rapport with her patient. In fact, she stayed till seven in the evening. She left only when they felt they had created a special bond.

“I’m just glad that I’m able to play a part in this historic day.

The last few months have been tough for all of us working in the NHS, but now it feels like there is light at the end of the tunnel,” she confessed in an earlier interview.


Younger years

How did May get to this point? She narrated to us her progression through the years.

Parsons, who grew up in Pasay City, was the youngest of a brood of four older brothers.

FROM left: Daughter Txenoa Ashley, son Ethan Ross, husband Brynn and May. (Photographs courtesy of may parsons)

“I was spoilt rotten by my Dad,” she admitted. However, when their patriarch passed on during New Years of 1986, a reversal of fortune followed.

The young siblings transferred to Tarlac under the care of their maternal grandparents and aunts. A fond moment she recalls while in the province was a local beauty pageant she joined. “I didn’t win anything, but the participation was interesting!”

When it was finally time to pursue studies, they returned back to the metropolis.

Parsons soon graduated from the Jose Abad Santos High School (JASHS) – Arellano University.

Interestingly enough, she initially wanted to become a cardiac surgeon. However, she eventually fell in love with the world of nursing.

And so, despite her friends taking up multiple college entrance exams, she applied solely to the University of Santo Tomas (UST) as she was determined to be a part of this institution.

Before her 20th birthday, she completed her training at the UST’s College of Nursing.

You can perhaps say it was destiny that brought her to this path in her life. But more importantly, it was her grit and hard work.

British Ambassador to the Philippines, His Excellency Daniel Pruce has praised May Parsons’ “enormous contribution” to the NHS.

May immigrated from the Philippines 17 years ago in hopes of a better future for herself and her family.

Since her arrival, she has worked for the United Kingdom’s much-admired National Health Service (NHS) — the publicly-funded healthcare system of the country.

Upon arrival in the UK, she was initially assigned to be a scrub nurse in operating theaters.

She was eventually moved to the Post Anaesthetic Care Unit, otherwise known as the Recovery Area.

Her past jobs job involved routine and emergency surgeries, provide post-anesthetic care and cascade training on automated external defibrillation, safe moving and handling.

Today, as the Matron for Education and Escalation and Interim Matron for Respiratory Medicine, she currently handles several important responsibilities.

“I currently manage respiratory wards that house Covid and infectious diseases patients. It entails daily staffing, monitoring safety measures in place to ensure patients and staff, managing patient flow, dealing with incidents, compliments and complaints, ensuring clinical training and updates are in date,” she shared.

“I likewise manage and support respiratory specialist nurses to provide outpatient, cancer and outreach services.

I work with the multidisciplinary team, composed of doctors, physiotherapists, physiologists, specialists, nurse practitioners and more, to provide holistic care to our patients,” she added.


‘We haven’t stopped working’

As an immigrant herself, Parsons wanted to highlight their crucial role during this pandemic.

Filipinos, plus Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff have been affected the most.

“I’m hoping that people value the sacrifices we make and the risks we take to keep their families looked after,” she had revealed in previous interviews.

“Obviously in the Filipino community and BAME communities we’ve had the highest deaths, but we are still here, we haven’t stopped working.”

Meanwhile, back in our country, the British Ambassador to the Philippines, His Excellency Daniel Pruce has praised May Parsons’ “enormous contribution” to the NHS.

“A fantastic moment! And great to see that the vaccine is administered by Nurse May Parsons from the Philippines — one of the many thousands of Filipino healthcare workers making such an enormous contribution to the NHS,” Pruce tweeted.

All these brought wonderful memories of my time in London, where we welcomed at the airport the very first batch of Filipino healthcare workers — who the Philippine Embassy to the Court of Saint James has successfully fought for to be recognized as full-pledged nurses and not care staff.

Inspired by the first pioneers, several batches have reached foreign shores, to include Great Britain. We salute!