UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock had a taste of his own medicine when receiving his first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine on Thursday.
Mr Hancock, 42, was given the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca-Oxford at the Science Museum in London by the deputy chief medical officer for England, Jonathan Van-Tam, one of his closest advisers.
He became eligible for the vaccine after the National Health Service this week extended the priority-allocated inoculation campaign to healthy people aged 42 and older.
The health secretary pumped his fist and declared it a privilege to be vaccinated.
"It didn't hurt a bit, just like the queen said – barely a scratch," he said.
Prof Van-Tam asked him to “please remember to come back in 12 weeks” for his second injection, to which Mr Hancock replied: “I’ve got it booked in already.”
The health secretary paid tribute to the power of science, saying it had been “central this last year more than ever” and that it “felt fitting to be at the museum” for his vaccination.
“It’s a privilege to get my first jab within the historic walls of the Science Museum in London, where the team are documenting the national pandemic response and preserving items like the first Covid-19 vaccine vial to be used anywhere in the world,” he said.
More than 33 million people in Britain have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, while about 13.5 million have had a second, government statistics show.
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi on Thursday urged people to be careful about hugging each other and meeting indoors.
With new infections falling to very low levels in recent days, the government fears people will become blase.
Mr Zahawi said younger people still had not received their first dose and were more likely to spread Covid-19.
"At the moment only one in four adults have actually had the two doses," he said.
"It is much better to be careful. We all want obviously to get our freedoms back as quickly as possible but let us do this properly and let's do it safely."
Prof Van-Tam said on Wednesday it was “incredibly safe” for meetings between fully vaccinated people to proceed but urged people to wait just a “teeny bit” longer for restrictions to ease.
“If two people who both had two doses of vaccine and have both served at least 14 days after their second dose, then I would be highly confident, scientifically, that if those were reputable vaccines then indeed it would be incredibly safe for those two people to meet,” he said.
He said now was not the right time for meetings between two households to take place indoors.
“I know this feels tantalisingly, extremely close and it is going to be frustrating at times, particularly for those who have had their two doses, but we just need to make sure we don’t have to go backwards again on any of this,” he said.