The Queen has made what might be deemed a bold move, in encouraging people to have their Covid-19 vaccinations when offered.
The Monarch, 94, spoke to staff coordinating the vaccine programme across the UK and urged people ‘to think about other people rather than themselves,’ and get the jab if offered.
“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.”
“Once you’ve had the vaccine you have a feeling of, you know, you’re protected, which is I think very important,” she said in the call on Tuesday.
Early studies show the risk of catching infection is reduced by more than 70%, rising to 85% after the second dose, in the Pfizer version of the vaccine.
Commenting on her own experience of receiving the vaccine, The Queen said it was ‘harmless, very quick, easy’ and ‘didn’t hurt at all’. We know that she and Prince Philip were given their first dose in January by a royal doctor at Windsor, as part of the high-priority groups due to their ages.
“As far as I could make out it was quite harmless. It was very quick, and I’ve had lots of letters from people who have been very surprised by how easy it was to get the vaccine. And the jab – it didn’t hurt at all.”
It is rare for The Queen to make such prominent comments about public health matters – or indeed any government programme – which highlights the importance of the vaccination scheme to the country. Over 18 million people have now received their first dose of the vaccine in the UK, in a population of around 65 million.
The Queen has spoken to health officials leading the deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine across the four nations of the UK.
Her Majesty heard about the vital importance of ensuring all communities have access to the vaccine, and shared her own experience. pic.twitter.com/Cululfsh4y
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) February 25, 2021
Unusually, the palace informed us when The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh had received their jabs, which certainly hinted of the royal role within the scheme, to encourage subjects to answer when called.
“I think it is remarkable how quickly the whole thing has been done and so many people have had the vaccine already, so you’ll have to keep up the good work,” the Head of State said of the speed of the programme. “I’m very glad indeed to have had the chance to hear it all.”
Derek Grieve, head of the Scottish government’s vaccinations division, said: “This has been a huge national endeavour and one that I certainly haven’t seen of this scale before.”
Comparing it to her experience of the Second World War, she added: “Having lived through the war, it’s really much like that when everybody had the same idea and I think this has rather inspired that.”
Grieve replied: “If I could bottle this community sprit and use it, not just for the vaccine programme but for other things, the job would be done.”
“Wouldn’t it be nice!” the Monarch laughed.
You might remember The Queen’s rare public address given back in April, where she echoed Vera Lynn’s wartime hit: we will meet again.
It has been revealed that the uptake in the BAME community has been lower than that of white Brits: only 72% of Black Brits are willing to be vaccinated. The virus has also affected ethnic minorities more, as well as under-privileged communities, groups which overlap in numerous locations across the UK.
We also got to learn more about her reaction to the virus, as it became pandemic. Dr Naresh Chada, the deputy chief medical officer for Northern Ireland, said on the call: “We know that this is probably the largest and most disruptive pandemic that we’ve faced globally and within the UK for over a hundred years.”
“It’s a bit like a plague, isn’t it?” the Royal replied. “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.”