Actor Ian McKellen speaks with GP Dr Phil Bennett-Richards as he receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Arts Research Centre, Queen Mary University Hospital, in London, Britain December 16, 2020. Jeff Moore/Handout via REUTERS
British actor Ian McKellen, who played the wizard Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings movies, said he was euphoric after receiving his first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and urged everyone who was offered the jab to accept it.
The state-run National Health Service (NHS), which is running Britain’s mass COVID vaccination programme, posted several pictures of McKellen, in a blue T-shirt and a rainbow striped scarf, giving a thumbs up as he received the shot.
“It’s a very special day. I feel euphoric,” McKellen, 81, was quoted as saying in one NHS post which he retweeted.
“I would have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone. I feel very lucky to have had the vaccination.”
Nearly 140,000 people have received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine in Britain since roll out began on Dec. 8. People aged over 80 are in the highest priority group.
A star of British stage and screen since the 1960s, McKellen attained a new level of global fame in the 2000s when he appeared as Gandalf in the movies based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels and directed by Peter Jackson.
He was the latest British celebrity to go public about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, part of a collective effort to reassure members of the public who may be harbouring doubts about the jab’s safety.
The chef and cookery writer Prue Leith, 80, who presents the high-ratings TV show “The Great British Bake Off”, also posted a picture of herself receiving the shot.
It is not known whether Queen Elizabeth, 94, and her husband Prince Philip, 99, have had the vaccine yet. The Times reported they may “let it be known” once they have.
The queen is highly respected in Britain and her backing would be a powerful message to counter anti-vaccination misinformation.