'It didn’t hurt at all’: Queen calls on all Britons to get the COVID vaccine when they can
Watch: It didn't hurt at all - Queen on COVID jab
The Queen has urged people to think of others as they weigh up whether to get the COVID-19 vaccine, as she said the jab "didn't hurt at all".
In a remarkably open exchange about her own medical experience, the Queen said the process of getting the jab was "very quick".
She was speaking to health leaders across the UK as the rollout of the vaccine continues, making her first video appearance since her husband Prince Philip was taken into hospital.
Asked for her feedback on the jab, the Queen, 94, laughed as she said: "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 have been surprised by how easy it was to get the vaccine.
"And the jab – 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 Queen 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.”
She added: “I think it is remarkable how quickly the whole thing has been done and so many people have had the vaccine already.”
Watch: Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip receive COVID-19 vaccinations
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The Queen was speaking as the UK passed the 18 million mark of people who have received their first dose of either the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab or the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and as she went into her second week with her husband in hospital.
Prince Philip, 99, has been in King Edward VII hospital since 16 February, and is expected to spend several more days there as he is being treated for an infection.
Also on the call was Dr Naresh Chada, deputy chief medical officer for Northern Ireland, who gave his overview of the health crisis and 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 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, told the Queen about residents from the Isle of Benbecula, in the Outer Hebrides, and the Coast Guard, local authority and volunteers had come together to set up a vaccine centre in a community hall in a few days.
He said: "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?”
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The Queen drew on the spirit of the war in April 2020, when she made an address to the nation and the commonwealth during the first national lockdown, and encouraged with the words of Dame Vera Lynn, saying "we'll meet again".
Speaking after the call, Dr Lawson said the Queen's comments were 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 confirmed the duke and the Queen had received their first coronavirus vaccine doses in a rare medical statement.
The Queen wanted to prevent inaccuracies and end any speculation.
Her son Prince Charles, 72, and his wife Camilla, 73, have also both had their first doses of the jab.
Camilla said she "leapt for joy" after receiving the vaccine and talked about it being a step to freedom.
She told people waiting for theirs at a centre in Wembley that she hoped they would be able to see their grandchildren soon.
Prince William, the Queen's grandson, has said he will be at the "front of the queue" when the vaccine is offered to him, but clarified he will "wait his turn".
The 38-year-old has already had coronavirus, as has Prince Charles.
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