Queen Elizabeth joined a group of health officials on a live-streamed conference on Thursday, and encouraged Britons to think about their fellow neighbor before outright refusing to vaccinate against the respiratory disease.
Speaking from the quarters of the Windsor Castle, the queen told the panel that individuals who refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine should “think about other people rather than themselves,” marking her very first remarks on the subject.
She later described her own experience and indicated that when she received her jab earlier in January, “it didn’t hurt at all.”
“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 very surprised at how easy it was to get the vaccine,” Elizabeth added. “Once you've had the vaccine you have a feeling of, you know, you're protected, which is I think very important.”
For the queen, the pandemic has strong similarities to the plague. “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,” she noted.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the royal family has undertaken multiple efforts to bolster support for the government’s vaccination program. In fact, in light of the surging anti-vaccination debate and strong hesitancy over the vaccine from minority communities, the queen, Prince Charles and Prince William, among other royals, have all taken part in promoting vaccine-related campaigns.
Those campaigns include Prince Charles meeting with volunteers taking part in clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccine, and Prince William’s recent visit to a vaccination center in Norfolk.
According to The Telegraph, the UK government is planning to double its efforts by launching a new campaign targeting ethnic minority groups through various mediums that will broadcast in 14 different languages. The initiative is expected to also focus on Muslim communities ahead of Ramadan.
To date, a total of 18.6 million people have been given at least their first dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine in the UK, according to the latest government figures. Only 700,718 Britons have been fully vaccinated against the deadly respiratory illness.