The Queen has made a historic intervention in the coronavirus vaccination drive, suggesting it is selfish not to have the jab.
In a video call with NHS officials in charge of the rollout, she encouraged those with doubts to ‘think about other people rather than themselves’.
The 94-year-old monarch said her jab last month ‘didn’t hurt at all’ and had made her ‘feel protected’. Likening Covid to a plague, she said it was remarkable how quickly the inoculation programme had been put into action, helping ‘so many people’.
A senior royal source said: ‘It is a passionately held belief that people need to get out there [and get vaccinated] – this is important.’
It is highly unusual for the sovereign to take such a firm public stand on contentious issues and her remarks will be seen as a victory for efforts to increase take-up. An NHS vaccine chief said it was an ‘incredibly important vote of confidence’ in the programme.
The Queen has made a historic intervention in the coronavirus vaccination drive, suggesting it is selfish not to have the jab
The 94-year-old monarch (pictured leaving King Edward VII Hospital in 2013) said her jab last month ‘didn’t hurt at all’ and had made her ‘feel protected’
In a video call with NHS officials in charge of the rollout, Her Majesty encouraged those with doubts to ‘think about other people rather than themselves’
More than 18million Britons – one in three adults – have had at least one jab. Another 448,962 were given first doses on Wednesday.
But officials are concerned that ‘vaccine hesitancy’ could still undermine the rollout and even slow down the easing of lockdown restrictions. They estimate that around 15 per cent of the population will not take up the offer of a jab, with scepticism highest among the young and minority ethnic groups.
The NHS has been working with community leaders and church groups to try to alleviate some of these fears with seminars and Q&A sessions.
The Queen was speaking during a WebEx video call with the four ‘senior responsible officers’ leading the deployment of Covid-19 vaccination across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Emily Lawson, who is leading the vaccine deployment programme for the NHS in England, told the monarch: ‘We hope everyone who is offered the vaccine will take it up, because it is our best chance to protect both the people who take up the vaccine, their families and their communities.’
In reply, the Queen suggested it was selfish for people not to have the jab if offered one, saying: ‘Once you’ve had the vaccine you have a feeling of, you know, you’re protected, which is I think very important.
‘And 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.’
The Queen was speaking during a WebEx video call with the four ‘senior responsible officers’ leading the deployment of Covid-19 vaccination across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
Queen’s quotes during call with NHS chiefs
‘THINK ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE’
‘Once you’ve had the vaccine you have a feeling you’re protected, which is I think very important. It’s obviously difficult for people if they’ve never had a vaccine… but they ought to think about other people rather than themselves.
‘IT’S LIKE THE WAR’
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.
Having lived in the war, it’s very much like that – when everybody had the same idea.
THE ‘HARMLESS’ JAB
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 surprised by how easy it was to get the vaccine… It didn’t hurt at all.
After the call Dr Lawson said the Queen’s comments were 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.’
The Prince of Wales, Duke of Cambridge and Duchess of Cornwall have been thanking volunteers and key workers for their efforts in the vaccine rollout.
Earlier this week Prince William made a point of saying on the jab: ‘I’d be at the front of the queue if I could, just to prove that it’s OK, but I have to wait my turn.’
The duchess told volunteers at another vaccination centre: ‘It feels like the first step of freedom, I certainly felt like that [after getting the vaccine].
‘I hope you’re able to be reunited with your grandchildren, I think we’re all looking forward to that!’
The Countess of Wessex is volunteering as a St John Ambulance volunteer at a vaccination centre.
More than 10,000 volunteers have been trained for deployment at 2,500 sites around the UK.
The Queen had been reluctant to publicly confirm she was going to be vaccinated, with officials arguing that it was ‘private medical information’.
But she had a change of heart and it was revealed that she and the 99-year-old Duke of Edinburgh had been given their jabs by a royal doctor early last month.
The monarch has made only a handful of carefully-worded interventions in government matters during the course of her 69 years as head of state, most notably when she urged people to ‘think very carefully about the future’ ahead of the 2014 Scottish independence vote.
It was later claimed that her comment to a member of public outside church at Balmoral was part of an ‘orchestrated’ plan to persuade people to vote ‘no’.
More than 18million Britons – one in three adults – have had at least one jab. Another 448,962 were given first doses on Wednesday. Pictured: A man receives a vaccine at the Arnison Vaccination Centre near Durham
In 2019 she also urged people to seek common ground and never lose sight of the ‘bigger picture’ in what was widely seen as a reference to the often vitriolic debate over Brexit in a speech to her local Sandringham Women’s Institute.
A royal source likened this week’s intervention to the speech given by the Queen at the start of the pandemic in which she urged people to stay at home and talked about the need to work together to defeat the virus.
‘In this engagement and the engagements the family have been doing, it is another example of how we are all in it together,’ the insider added.
From today, hundreds of thousands of people on the official shielding list will be asked to come forward for their first dose.
Public health officials identified 1.7million who are at additional risk from coronavirus earlier this month, with around 600,000 now being invited to book a time.
A further ten major vaccination centres, including Reading’s Madejski stadium and a theatre in Basildon, Essex, will start administering jabs this week.