Star of stage and screen Sir Ian McKellen joins the thousands who have safely received the COVID-19 vaccine

Sir Ian McKellen CBE, 81, has safely received the COVID-19 vaccine after the NHS launched its vaccine rollout earlier this month.

Sir Ian forms part of the first eligible groups for the COVID-19 vaccine and joins the thousands of over 80s, NHS staff, care home staff and the growing list of stars – including Prue Leith and Michael Whitehall – who have been called upon by the NHS to receive the vaccine and have attended their local GP practice or vaccination centre to do so.

After getting the vaccine at The Art Pavilion in Mile End, Sir Ian McKellen said: “I feel honoured to have received the COVID-19 vaccine and I would urge anyone who is offered the vaccine to take up the offer – it took a few minutes and then it was done.

“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.”

The COVID-19 vaccine is the biggest breakthrough since the pandemic began, potentially saving tens of thousands of lives. The country-wide vaccination programme is the largest in NHS history and is already in its second week, with healthcare workers, people living in care homes and the elderly amongst those being prioritised.

Just like other routine vaccines, the coronavirus vaccine works by teaching the immune system how to defend itself against attack. The vaccine is given as an injection into the upper arm and is given as 2 doses, at least 21 days apart.

An effective vaccine will be the best way to protect the most vulnerable from COVID-19 and the UK’s roll out only began when the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which has been trialled on around 45,000 people, was confirmed to have met the strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which enabled it to be given to the public.

Dr Nikki Kanani, NHS England Medical Director for Primary Care, said: “The NHS has made an excellent start to rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine across the country, with dozens of hospitals and now hundreds of local vaccination services offering the vaccine to those who need it most.

“This is a huge step forward in the fight against coronavirus, but everyone should continue to follow all guidance to control the spread of the virus.”

The UK’s vaccination programme will build up steadily in the weeks and months ahead and will gradually be extended to more and more people in order of age and risk. To help, people must wait to be contacted – the NHS will let people know when it’s their turn to have the vaccine. It’s important not to contact the NHS for a vaccination before then and when contacted, it’s important to attend booked appointments.