The Queen has urged those hesitant about the coronavirus jab to get vaccinated, as the Government prepares to publish details on the next phase of the rollout. The head of state, who was inoculated in January, said she understood that people who have never had a vaccine would find it “difficult” but encouraged them to “think about other people rather than themselves”.
The Queen added: “Once you’ve had the vaccine you have a feeling of, you know, you’re protected, which is I think very important.”
It comes as the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is expected in the coming days to release its recommendations on the next phase of the vaccine rollout.
These next steps follow the top nine priority groups – including all over-50s – being offered the jab.
The independent advisory committee is understood to have recommended that prioritisation should continue down the age ranges, with people in their 40s invited next for a jab.
The move could come as a blow to those who have been campaigning for teachers, police officers and other frontline key workers to be next on the list.
In response, Metropolitan Police Federation chairman Ken Marsh criticised the Government: “It’s absolutely disgusting – they don’t give a damn about us.
“Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel should hang their heads in shame.”
In a video call with health leaders from across the UK responsible for delivering the vaccine, the Queen was asked about her experience of having the jab.
She replied: “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’ve been very surprised by how easy it was to get the vaccine.
She added: “It didn’t hurt at all.”
On the success of the rollout so far, the Queen said: “I think it is remarkable how quickly the whole thing has been done and so many people have had the vaccine already.”
Elsewhere, hundreds of thousands of people asked to shield in England are being invited for a coronavirus vaccine.
About 1.7 million more people were added to the shielding list last week after experts identified additional adults at serious risk of the virus and NHS England said some 600,000 of that group are now being invited to book a slot.
Meanwhile, new research indicated eight in 10 people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds trust information about vaccines from family members more than from the Government and the media.
The British Red Cross, which commissioned the online survey, said the findings suggest family conversations could be key to tackling vaccine hesitancy among certain BAME groups.
Some 82% of vaccine-hesitant people from BAME communities said they could be convinced to have a jab, with their main concerns ranging from side effects, speed of production and ingredients, the charity said.
It added that 81% of BAME people polled said they would trust information from their family, which is higher than the Government (66%) and mainstream media (50%).
Government data up to February 24 showed a further 448,962 first doses of the coronavirus vaccine and 31,613 second jabs had been administered.
A further 323 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Thursday and there had been a further 9,985 lab-confirmed cases in the UK.