Veteran actor Sir Ian McKellen has had his first Covid-19 vaccination and urged everyone invited for theirs to take up the offer.
At the age of 81, Sir Ian is among the first eligible cohort for the vaccine. He joins thousands of over-80s, NHS staff, care home staff and a growing list of veteran celebrities who’ve already been called up by the NHS to have the potentially life-saving jab. Others well-known names include Prue Leith and Michael Whitehall.
After getting the vaccine at The Art Pavilion in Mile End, London, Sir Ian said: “I feel honoured to have received the Covid-19 vaccine and I would urge anyone who is offered the vaccine to take up the offer – it took a few minutes and then it was done.
“I really hope that, as more people get vaccinated, we will move further along the path back to a more normal way of life, particularly for the arts which have suffered so much this year. We all have a part to play in the fight against coronavirus and doing our bit and getting vaccinated will save lives.”
The Covid-19 vaccine is the biggest breakthrough since the pandemic began, potentially saving tens of thousands of lives. The country-wide vaccination programme is the largest in NHS history, with healthcare workers, people living in care homes and the elderly amongst those being prioritised.
Just like other routine vaccines, the coronavirus vaccine works by teaching the immune system how to defend itself against attack. The vaccine is given as an injection into the upper arm and is given as two doses, at least 21 days apart.
An effective vaccine is the best way to protect the most vulnerable from Covid-19 and the UK’s rollout only began when the Pfizer vaccine was approved. More vaccines are expected to be approved for use in the UK in the coming weeks, leading to an acceleration of the national vaccination programme.
Dr Nikki Kanani, NHS England Medical Director for Primary Care, said: “The NHS has made an excellent start to rolling out the Covid-19 vaccine across the country, with dozens of hospitals and now hundreds of local vaccination services offering the vaccine to those who need it most. This is a huge step forward in the fight against coronavirus, but everyone should continue to follow all guidance to control the spread of the virus.”
The UK’s vaccination programme will build up steadily in the weeks and months ahead and will gradually be extended to more and more people in order of age and risk. To help, people must wait to be contacted – the NHS will let people know when it’s their turn to have the vaccine. It’s important not to contact the NHS for a vaccination before then and when contacted, it’s important to attend booked appointments.