Queen Elizabeth, Seen for First Time Since Philip's Hospitalization, Speaks of Her COVID Vaccine
Queen Elizabeth is all smiles speaking about her vaccine experience.
In her first public appearance since husband Prince Philip was hospitalized nine days ago, the Queen, 94, spoke in a video call released Thursday, using the British colloquialism "the jab" to refer to the the COVID-19 vaccination.
"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," she said in the WebEx call with health leaders from the four nations that make up the U.K. "And the jab –- it didn't hurt at all."
The Queen received her first inoculation injection alongside her husband Philip, 99, in January. Philip was admitted to the King Edward VII hospital, in London last week and is staying in for several more days, the palace said earlier this week, adding he was suffering from an "infection."
The Queen spoke with the four Senior Responsible Officers (SROs) overseeing the delivery of the vaccine in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to hear about the collaborative effort which has led to more than 18 million people across the U.K. getting their first dose of a vaccine.
Dr. Emily Lawson, who leads the effort on behalf of the National Health Service (NHS) England, told the Queen how healthcare workers, government officials, volunteers and the Armed Forces have worked together across all four nations to deliver the vaccine to every community in the U.K.
The head of the Welsh program, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gillian Richardson, explained how a variety of health professionals, including dentists and pharmacists, are working to deliver the vaccine to every corner of the country.
Around 1.5 million Scots have now been vaccinated, reported Derek Grieve, Head of the Scottish Government's Vaccinations Division. The challenge is ensuring those living in remote areas are not excluded. Grieve told the Queen how cold storage facilities have been secured in the remote Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles for the vaccines.
"If I could bottle this community spirit and use it not just for the vaccination program, but for other things, the job would be done," Grieve added.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Northern Ireland, Dr. Naresh Chada, shared how teams have been working to deliver the vaccine to the most vulnerable, with residents of all 483 care homes now inoculated against the virus.
The Queen's call was the latest in the effort made by the royal family to show solidarity with the vaccinators and the volunteers helping with the rollout. Prince William previously visited vaccination center close to his country home at King's Lynn, Norfolk.
Last week, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of of Cornwall met volunteers who are undertaking clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccinations at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.
And Camilla also checked in with volunteers at a vaccination center in Wembley, northwest London, this week.
On Thursday, Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, undertook her first shift as a St. John Ambulance Care Volunteer at an NHS vaccination center. She has joined a burgeoning team of over 10,000 volunteers who have been trained and deployed to NHS vaccination hubs across the country, as part of the extraordinary collective effort.