Queen urges those worried about Covid jab to 'think about others rather than themselves'

25 February 2021, 22:00 | Updated: 26 February 2021, 08:29

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The Queen has urged those who are worried about getting vaccinated against coronavirus to "think about other people rather than themselves".

Speaking on a video call with the four health officials leading the rollout in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the head of state her jab "didn't hurt at all".

The monarch was given her first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in January, which she said left her with the "important" feeling of being "protected".

Dr Emily Lawson, who is leading the vaccine deployment programme for the NHS in England, asked Her Majesty for "feedback" on her inoculation experience.

The head of state chuckled as she replied: "Well, as far as I can make out it was quite harmless.

"It was very quick, and I've had lots of letters from people who've been very surprised by how easy it was to get the vaccine."

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She also compared the coronavirus pandemic to a "plague" that had swept across the globe but praised the rollout of jabs in the UK, describing the speed and number of people reached as "remarkable".

During the conversation on Tuesday, the monarch likened the community spirit seen throughout Britain's outbreak to what she experienced during the Second World War.

She also sought to give the four health officials a morale boost, telling them to "keep up the good work".

They told the Queen that it had taken a unified effort for the nation to pass the milestone of 18 million vaccinations since the outset of the programme.

Dr Lawson said: "We hope everyone who is offered the vaccine will take it up, because it is... all of our best chances to protect both the people who take up the vaccine, their families and their communities."

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The Queen has urged those who are hesitant about the Covid vaccine to think about others
The Queen has urged those who are hesitant about the Covid vaccine to think about others. Picture: PA
The monarch was speaking with the four health officials leading the jab rollout in the four UK nations
The monarch was speaking with the four health officials leading the jab rollout in the four UK nations. Picture: PA

The head of state replied: "Once you've had the vaccine you have a feeling of, you know, you're protected, which is I think very important.

"I think the other thing is, that it is obviously difficult for people if they've never had a vaccine... but they ought to think about other people rather than themselves."

She added: "I think it is remarkable how quickly the whole thing has been done and so many people have had the vaccine already."

On Wednesday, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi told an online conference - hosted by London's Science Museum - that roughly 11-15 per cent of the population are vaccine-hesitant.

He explained that the figure "skews toward the black and Afro-Caribbean community and other BAME communities".

To combat jab scepticism, Buckingham Palace broke with convention in January and announced that the 94-year-old monarch and the Duke of Edinburgh, 99, had received their initial doses.

The Palace rarely comments on the private health matters of the Royal pair but the Queen decided the information should be publicised to prevent inaccuracies and further speculation.

Dr Lawson said they had received lots of feedback and asked the head of state about her experience of being vaccinated, to which she replied: "It didn't hurt at all."

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall have also both received their jabs, with Camilla saying she "leapt for joy" after receiving her first dose.

The Duke of Cambridge, who like his father Charles contracted coronavirus earlier in the pandemic, said on Monday he would be at the "front of the queue" for a vaccine to prove it is OK - but will "wait my turn".

Dr Naresh Chada, deputy chief medical officer for Northern Ireland, gave his overview of the health crisis, telling the monarch: "We know that this is probably the largest and most disruptive pandemic that we face globally, and within the UK, for over 100 years, and now there'll be a continual battle of the vaccine versus the virus and its mutations.

"But I've got absolute faith, both in the medical research community - both here in the UK and globally - that we will keep one step ahead of the virus, and that will definitely lead to better times, for all of us."

The monarch replied: "I think this is...very unusual. I mean it's a bit like a plague, isn't it?

"Because it's not only here that we've got the virus but it's everywhere, so it's a strange battle that everybody's actually fighting."

Derek Grieve, head of the Scottish Government's Vaccinations Division, highlighted how residents from the Isle of Benbecula - in the Outer Hebrides - the Coast Guard, local authority and volunteers had rallied together to set up a vaccination centre in a community hall in a matter of days.

He said: "So my lasting reflection ma'am would be if I could bottle this community spirit and use it, not just for the vaccination programme but for other things, I think the job would be done."

The Queen replied: "Well, having lived in the war. It's very much like that, you know, when everybody had the same idea. And I think this has rather, sort of, inspired that - hasn't it?"

After the call, Dr Lawson described the head of state's comments about her vaccine experience as an "incredibly important vote of confidence in the programme".

She added: "We just want to make sure we create the conditions where everybody feels able to take up the offer of a vaccination when they're called.

"And Her Majesty offering her view on that is a huge boost to our confidence and I hope to confidence more broadly in the programme."

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