Queen Elizabeth tells Covid vaccine sceptics to 'think about others'

British monarch says injection was painless when she received it last year

Queen Elizabeth urged Britons to have a coronavirus shot, telling sceptics of the vaccine to "think about others rather than yourself".

In an online meeting with UK health leaders, the queen said her vaccination had been "very quick and painless" when she was given it last year.

Elizabeth, 94, and her husband Prince Philip, 99, who is in hospital receiving treatment for a non-Covid infection, were given their vaccinations by a household doctor at Windsor Castle.

Their age put them in the priority group for England’s coronavirus vaccine.

"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," she said on Tuesday. "And the jab – it didn’t hurt at all."

Britain's Queen Elizabeth spoke to UK health leaders about the vaccination campaign. Reuters. 
Britain's Queen Elizabeth spoke to UK health leaders about the vaccination campaign. Reuters. 

Dr Emily Lawson, who is leading the vaccine programme for the NHS in England, told the queen: “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.”

Queen Elizabeth 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.

“I think it is remarkable how quickly the whole thing has been done and so many people have had the vaccine already.”

Dr Naresh Chada, deputy chief medical officer for Northern Ireland, gave the queen his overview of the health crisis.

“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," Dr Chada said.

“But I’ve got absolute faith in the medical research community, 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 queen 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, and the coastguard, local authority and volunteers rallied to set up a vaccination centre in a community hall in days.

“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,” Mr Grieve said.

The queen said: “Wouldn’t it be nice.

“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?”

More than 18.6 million Britons have received their first Covid vaccine injection, and celebrities including singer Elton John and actor Michael Caine joined campaigns encouraging people to take up offers to have the shot.

Other members of the royal family, including heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles and his son Prince William, visited vaccination centres over the past fortnight to thank staff and volunteers for their work.

Updated: February 26, 2021 10:54 AM

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