Vaccinations save lives, the Lord Speaker declared as he revealed he was about to receive the Covid-19 jab.
Lord Fowler joked there are some advantages to being aged 82, as he told peers it is “not an appointment I wish to miss” and urged others to follow suit.
Speaking as the House of Lords prepared to break for Christmas, he said the start of the vaccination programme marked “a new chapter in the fight against the virus”.
He hailed the work of health service staff and those who had “moved heaven and earth” to develop the vaccine.
Lord Fowler served as health secretary from 1981 to 1987, during which time he headed the department’s response to the Aids epidemic and oversaw the implementation of the ground-breaking “Don’t Die of Ignorance” awareness campaign.
Speaking at the start of Thursday’s session, Lord Fowler told the upper house: “During oral questions I will leave the Woolsack and hand over to the excellent Senior Deputy Speaker.
“The reason is I have been called in to receive a coronavirus vaccination. There are perhaps some advantages to being 82 going on 83 and it’s not an appointment I wish to miss.
“Vaccinations save lives and I would urge anyone called forward to respond.
“This month marks a new chapter in the fight against the virus and I applaud the work of all those who have been working night and day in our health service and those who have moved heaven and earth to make this vaccine possible.”
Lord Fowler also paid tribute to the work of parliamentary staff during the pandemic, which has seen the Lords move to hybrid proceedings with some peers sitting physically in the socially- distanced chamber and others contributing by video link.
He said: “For my part I would like to thank everyone concerned for responding so magnificently to the crisis.”