First Indian-origin Miss England and frontline National Health Service (NHS) doctor Bhasha Mukherjee has received her first of the two COVID-19 jabs and endorsed the safety of the vaccines being rolled out among those most at risk from coronavirus.
The 25-year-old beauty queen and a medical professional has been working on the COVID frontlines at Pilgrim Hospital in Lincolnshire and Royal Derby Hospital in eastern England ever since she flew back from a humanitarian tour of India at the peak of the pandemic in April 2020.
As a healthcare ambassador for the British Indian community, the junior doctor has been active in spreading safety messages among ethnic minority groups which have been acknowledged as being at a higher risk from the deadly virus.
"It's good to know I'm protected and I'm sure my colleagues feel the same," said Ms Mukherjee.
"I'm thankful as being BAME [black, Asian, minority ethnic], I'm in a high-risk group. I feel so grateful to be in the position to have received the vaccine when millions are in the waiting line across the globe. My prayers are with everyone who's waiting patiently at home, including my own family members who I hope will get their vaccines soon too," she said.
In reference to no adverse side effects from the jab, she added: "After a few hours, I even did a Zoom home workout and press-ups, all to celebrate."
Under the NHS accelerated vaccination programme, the Pfizer/Biontech and Astrazeneca vaccines to immunise against COVID--19 are being administered to the priority groups of over-70s, care home residents and staff, and NHS workers at the frontline of combatting coronavirus.
"My colleagues and I found out just days before that we would be receiving it this week. I was so excited and nervous I was jumping on my seat before I got jabbed. The nurse giving me my injection told me to sit still or the photo would come blurry," said Mukherjee, the longest-serving Miss England after she was crowned in 2019.
Besides working on the NHS frontline, she has been carrying on with her Miss England pageant-related duties virtually and has also become an ambassador for the eco-friendly feminine hygiene brand Plastfree Pads.
Her efforts to spread awareness around the safety of COVID-19 vaccines follow reports of reluctance among the UK's ethnic minority communities in taking up the jabs. Temples and mosques have joined a community-led drive to combat fake news and disinformation surrounding the vaccines.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel reiterated the government's message around their efficacy during a Downing Street briefing on Thursday evening.
"I want to take this moment and opportunity to counter some of the disinformation about the vaccine, especially any messages targeted at an ethnic minority background," the senior Indian-origin Cabinet minister said.
"This vaccine is safe for us all. It is safe for you and your family. It is our best chance of beating this virus. So I urge everyone across our wonderfully diverse country when the time comes to keep everyone safe," she said.
The latest data shows that the NHS has been vaccinating people at the rate of 200 jabs per minute and over 4 million people have been vaccinated across the UK since the programme rollout began last month.