Magneto Actor Ian McKellen Gets COVID-19 Vaccine
Sir Ian McKellen feels “euphoric” after receiving his first dose of the Pfizer/BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine from the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, a state-run healthcare provider that all UK citizens can use without paying for the full cost of medical care (or so I hear).
On Wednesday, December 16, 2020, McKellen received his first injection of the vaccine from the NHS at the Arts Research Center, Queen Mary University Hospital in East London. And he is looking forward to giving his doctors a hug at his second – well, if it’s safe.
Ian McKellen Latest “Sensible” Celebrity to Get Jabbed
McKellen – known for playing Magneto in the X-Men franchise – is the latest “sensible” celebrity enlisted by the NHS to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. In the UK, television stars Prue Leith and Michael Whitehall already received their vaccines on Tuesday, as part of a campaign targeting COVID skepticism and indecision over getting the vaccine.
The Guardian learned earlier this month that celebrities, influencers, and religious leaders were being used in a press campaign to persuade people to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
UK Ministers and the NHS chose certain celebrities for the campaign because they made sensible decisions during the pandemic – hence the campaign’s name. The first of the sensible celebrities to receive the vaccine are eligible to receive the vaccine as members of groups most at risk from coronavirus.
The UK hopes the PR campaign will drive vaccine take-up because celebrities (like McKellen) are trusted by the general public.
COVID-19 Vaccine in the UK
Earlier in December, the United Kingdom became the first Western nation to authorize a COVID-19 vaccine, after regulators granted emergency authorization for a vaccine made by United States pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.
The vaccine is 95% effective, and according to the NHS, works by “teaching the immune system how to defend itself against attack.” However, for optimal effectiveness, people need to take the vaccine twice, with the doses taken at least 21 days apart from each other.
COVID-19 Vaccine Roll-Out in UK
The NHS is rolling out the vaccine to people over the age of 80 who already have a hospital appointment scheduled, high-risk health care workers, and residents and workers of nursing homes.
According to the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, the priority of the vaccination program is the prevention of COVID-19 mortality and the protection of health and social care staff and systems, and then, “vaccination of those at increased risk of [hospitalization] and increased risk of exposure, and to maintain resilience in essential public services.”
The UK committee has reviewed the unpublished safety and efficacy data for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and says that, in all age groups, “the vaccine appears to be safe and well-tolerated, and there were no clinically concerning safety observations.”
Ian McKellen’s Thoughts on the Vaccine
And, so far, people who have received the vaccine are saying it is safe. After getting the injection, the 81-year-old McKellen gave a thumbs up and said, “It’s a very special day, I feel euphoric. I would have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone. I feel very lucky to have had the vaccine.”
“It’s a very special day, I feel euphoric. I would have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone. I feel very lucky to have had the vaccine.”
— NHS London (@NHSEnglandLDN) December 16, 2020
McKellen talked to ITV News after receiving the first dose of the vaccine. In the interview, the actor also reflected on his experience getting the vaccine with the NHS:
It seems the NHS is at the top of the list of the institutions that do well [in the UK]. Of course, I know I wouldn’t be alive if it hadn’t been for the NHS. I’m a little bit older than the NHS, but having good medical treatment available when needed what a wonderful notion, and what a wonderful definition of what we are as a nation – a National Health Service. We’re all equal, under the vaccination.
Since I was a child, I’ve had injections. I’ve always thought, ah good, here’s health coming my way. It is invasive, of course, and looks like a weapon and needle, but it isn’t. It’s a friend. I would encourage everybody to do the sensible thing not just for themselves, but for everybody else. If you’re virus-free, then that helps everybody else. Doesn’t it?
The research shows that more people getting the vaccine early really might help everybody else because it interrupts the coronavirus transmission.
The vaccination program is in its second week in the UK. So far, NHS has called it the “biggest breakthrough since the pandemic began, potentially saving tens of thousands of lives.”
Final Thoughts from Magneto
McKellen urged his fans to keep saving lives by considering the vaccine, saying:
I really hope that, as more people get vaccinated, we will move further along the path back to a more normal way of life, particularly for the arts, which have suffered so much this year. We all have a part to play in the fight against coronavirus, and doing our bit and getting vaccinated will save lives.