Queen tells health leaders that COVID-19 vaccine was 'harmless'
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The monarch, 94, made the comments during a video call on Tuesday with health leaders delivering the vaccine across the four nations. The Queen, who was inoculated in January, urged people who are unsure about taking the jab to “think about other people rather than themselves”.
The monarch spoke to the four senior responsible officers overseeing the delivery of the vaccine in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to hear about the effort which has seen more than 18 million people vaccinated in the UK.
Asked about her experience, the head of state chuckled as she replied: “Well, 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 very surprised by how easy it was to get the vaccine.
“It didn’t hurt at all.”
Dr Emily Lawson, who is leading the vaccine deployment 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.”
The monarch said: “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.”
She added: “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, told the Queen: “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.
“But I’ve got absolute faith, both in the medical research community – both 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 monarch said: “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.”
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Derek Grieve, head of the Scottish Government’s Vaccinations Division, highlighted how residents from the Isle of Benbecula, in the Outer Hebrides, and the Coast Guard, local authority and volunteers had rallied together to set up a vaccination centre in a community hall in a matter of days.
He added: “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.”
The Queen said: “Wouldn’t it be nice.”
She added: “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?”
After the call, Dr Lawson described the monarch’s comments about her vaccine experience as 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.”
Buckingham Palace announced in January that the Queen and Prince Philip, 99, had received their vaccinations in a rare move as private health matters are not usually commented on.
The monarch, who has spent much of the pandemic at Windsor Castle with the Duke of Edinburgh, decided the information should be made public to prevent inaccuracies and further speculation.
Prince Charles, who caught coronavirus last year, and Camilla have also been given their jabs.
Prince William, who also contracted coronavirus, said on Monday he would be at the “front of the queue” for a vaccine to prove it is OK – but will “wait my turn”.
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