Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr honors Pinay nurse who gave world’s first Covid-19 jab

2023 June 29

PRESIDENTIAL CITATION. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Thursday (June 29, 2023) meets with May Richell Cestina-Parsons, the Filipino-British nurse who administered the world’s first coronavirus disease 2019 vaccine outside of clinical trials, at the Study Room of Malacañan Palace in Manila. During the meeting, Marcos bestowed a Presidential Citation to Cestina-Parsons. 

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MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Thursday extolled May Richell Cestina-Parsons, the Filipino-British nurse who administered the world’s first coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccine outside of clinical trials.

State-run Radio Television Malacañang (RTVM) shared in its official Facebook page a short video clip of Marcos’ meeting with Cestina-Parsons at Malacañan Palace’s Study Room.

During Cestina-Parsons’ courtesy call on Marcos, a presidential citation was bestowed on her.

Cestina-Parsons earned the presidential citation “in recognition of her exemplary contributions, dedication to service, and exceptional leadership” and for “bringing honor and prestige to the Philippines and the Filipino people in being the first in the world to administer the Covid-19 vaccine outside of clinical trials.”

Marcos also honored Cestina-Parsons for her “steadfast efforts in promoting and advocating for the Philippines, Filipino nurses, and other healthcare professionals.”

Cestina-Parsons administered the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine shot to 90-year-old Margaret Keenan, the first person in the world to receive the jab, at a hospital in Coventry, England on Dec. 8, 2020.

Born and raised in the Philippines, Cestina-Parsons finished her nursing degree at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila.

She flew to the United Kingdom in 2003 to work for the National Health Service (NHS).

She has since been with the University Hospital’s Coventry and Warwickshire and is presently a Modern Matron for Respiratory Services.

In July 2022, Cestina-Parsons received on behalf of the NHS the prestigious George Cross Award, the British government’s highest non-military award for gallantry.

The George Cross Award was presented by the late Queen Elizabeth II to honor NHS work over the past seven decades and all the health leaders and workers from across the UK for their service throughout the pandemic.

The Philippine Senate in December 2022 also commended Cestina-Parsons for her courage, compassion, dedication and bravery in the face of grave and mortal danger.

On May 6 this year, the Philippine government made a bus advertisement featuring Cestina-Parsons, with the slogan “A Filipina. We Give The World Our Best. The Philippines.”

Cestina-Parsons is set to establish a charity to help her fellow Filipino nurses, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to achieve nursing qualification throughout their career paths locally or abroad, based on the RTVM’s Facebook post. 

Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos (PNA)