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Beginning of the end? Britain starts Covid-19 vaccinations

"My advice to anyone offered the vaccine is to take it. If I can do it, so can you," said Margaret Keenan, 90, the first vaccine recipient.
Image: Nurse May Parsons administers the Pfizer/BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine to Margaret Keenan, 90, at University Hospital in Coventry, central England
Nurse May Parsons administers the BioNtech-Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to Margaret Keenan, 90, in Coventry on Tuesday. Keenan was the first person to receive the approved vaccine.Jacob King / AFP - Getty Images

Good morning, NBC News readers.

Britain gives the first doses of a clinically approved Covid-19 vaccine, President-elect Joe Biden set to nominate the first African American to lead the Defense Department and the first pilot to break the sound barrier dies.

Here is what's happening this Tuesday morning.

Vaccinations begin in Britain, marking new phase in world’s Covid fight

Nearly a year after the first reported Covid-19 death in China, a 90-year-old British woman became the first person in the world to receive a clinically approved vaccine early this morning.

It was a landmark moment in the global fight against the most destructive pandemic in 100 years. In approving and delivering the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine, Britain is forging a path that will likely be followed by the United States and Europe in the coming weeks.

"It means I can finally look forward to spending time with my family and friends in the new year after being on my own for most of the year," said Margaret Keenan, who got the vaccine in Coventry. "My advice to anyone offered the vaccine is to take it. If I can do it, so can you."

In the U.S., the total number of Covid-19 cases topped 15 million early Monday. Among the first expected to receive the vaccine once its approved in the U.S. are nursing home residents and staff. But there are significant challenges to overcome before it’s broadly administered to this high-risk population, which has been hit harder than any other by the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Congress wants an extra week to negotiate a coronavirus relief bill that would come along with government funding legislation. A slew of emergency relief benefits are set to expire at the end of the month.

Follow our live blog for all the latest Covid-19 developments.

Biden to nominate retired Gen. Lloyd Austin for defense secretary, a first for an African American

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin to be defense secretary, according to three people familiar with the decision.

If confirmed, Austin, 67, a retired four-star general and former head of U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM, would be the first African American to lead the Defense Department. He was also the first Black American to lead Central Command, which oversees the U.S. military in the Middle East and parts of Africa, Central Asia and South Asia.

Austin was offered the job Sunday. He became the front-runner over the past week, but his relationship with Biden goes back years.

As Biden fills out his Cabinet, states that haven't yet certified their votes for president or that face legal challenges are rushing to resolve any remaining disputes by Tuesday, known as safe harbor day.

Federal judges in Michigan and Georgia on Monday denied Republican efforts to undo the certification of Biden as the winner of the election and rejected two of the lawsuits filed by President Donald Trump supporter Sidney Powell.

Meanwhile, in the Georgia Senate runoffs, Democrats are largely ignoring Trump's baseless fraud claims and instead are telling voters what’s at stake in next month's elections.

"We don’t have to think about him anymore," Democratic Senate candidate Jon Ossoff said of Trump.

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THINK about it

Aaron Burr's regret about his duel with Alexander Hamilton can teach us about social media partisanship, writes Daryl Austin in an opinion piece.


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18 gift-worthy inclusive holiday books for children that share stories of various holiday customs and traditions from around the world.

Quote of the day

"I was just a lucky kid who caught the right ride."

Chuck Yeager, a former U.S. Air Force officer who became the first pilot to break the speed of sound, said. He died Monday at the age of 97.

One fun thing

On the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, 79 years ago on Monday, Charles McGee turned 22. He soon went on to serve as a fighter pilot during World War II with the legendary Tuskegee Airmen, the all black unit that broke barriers and helped usher in change in America.

McGee ended up amassing more than 400 career combat missions and was recently awarded the rank of Brigadier General by President Donald Trump.

This year, in honor of his 101 birthday, Columbia College in Missouri, where he got his degree, dedicated a veterans’ service center to him.

His advice to today’s military members?

“They can achieve if they believe in themselves. Don’t let others tell them they can’t do something,” said McGee.

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