“Anyone who has lived as long as I have is alive because they have had previous vaccinations.” – Sir Ian McKellen, 2020
COVID-19 vaccination programs are rolling out in a number of Western countries. In the U.K., vaccination efforts have been underway for a week now, with the first resident receiving hers publicly, and with the country focusing on getting the shot to elderly residents as quickly as possible, a number of celebrities have received theirs: Lionel Blair, Marty Wilde, Bake Off‘s Prue Leith, and, most recently, Sir Ian McKellen.
The 81-year-old star of Lord of the Rings and X-Men received his first of two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine at Queen Mary’s University Hospital in London. He said he was “euphoric” to finally be getting a shot to protect him from COVID-19.
“Anyone who has lived as long as I have is alive because they have had previous vaccinations,” McKellen told reporters at the hospital.
McKellen described the experience as “painless” and “convenient,” and said it was “a very special day” after Dr. Phil Bennett-Richards gave him his shot. He also made sure to encourage others to make sure they get their vaccinations, too, as soon as they’re available.
“Getting in touch and meeting NHS staff and saying thank you to them for how hard they’ve been working is a bonus, I would have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone,” he said. “I feel very lucky to have had the vaccine… I really hope that, as more people get vaccinated, we will move further along the path back to a more normal way of life.”
McKellen’s words may prove to be more important than he thinks. COVID-19 vaccinations have arrived and could end the pandemic — but that would require a huge percentage of the population taking the vaccine (some experts estimate as many as 80 percent). However, this is happening at the same time that the World Health Organization says vaccine denial is a top global threat to public health. Many people are skeptical of this vaccine — many are even somehow skeptical of the pandemic itself, even after more than 300,000 people have died in the United States alone.
In the U.S., the first supplies of vaccine are going to frontline healthcare workers, with people in nursing homes scheduled to be up next. Healthy members of the general public likely won’t be eligible for vaccines until spring or summer. Hopefully, seeing high-profile celebrities like Sir Ian McKellen happily receiving their shots will help people see that they’re safe, effective, and necessary for a return to normal life.
Now how do we get Betty White to the front of the vaccine line?
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