Ian McKellen, 81, gets COVID-19 vaccine, says he has 'no hesitation in recommending it'

Hannah Yasharoff, USA TODAY
·2 min read

Sir Ian McKellen became the newest star to get vaccinated for COVID-19, announcing in a tweet Thursday he felt "very lucky to have had the vaccine" and recommended others do the same.

The 81-year-old stage and screen actor was given the first of two Pfizer vaccine doses Wednesday at the Queen Mary's University Hospital in London, per the BBC and an ITV story that McKellen retweeted. In a video clip, he received the shot, then threw up his arms and gave the nurse an elbow bump.

"It is invasive of course, it looks like a weapon – a needle – but it isn't, it's a friend," he told reporters afterward. "I would encourage everybody to do the sensible thing, not just for themselves but for everybody else because if you're virus-free that helps everybody else, doesn't it?"

He added in a tweet: "I feel very lucky to have had the vaccine. I would have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone."

The Guardian reported in November that the U.K.'s state-run National Health Service was planning to enlist "sensible" celebrities to help quell skepticism about the vaccine. McKellen praised the NHS in the ITV interview released Wednesday evening, calling it a "wonderful notion" to have "good medical treatment available" when it is needed.

"That's the real bonus of all this, to watch and see what works in this country and what doesn't work – and it seems to me the NHS is right at the top of the list for institutions that do work."

In this Oct. 30, 2019, file photo, actor Sir Ian McKellen poses for photographers at a photocall for the film "The Good Liar"at a central London hotel.
In this Oct. 30, 2019, file photo, actor Sir Ian McKellen poses for photographers at a photocall for the film "The Good Liar"at a central London hotel.

As of Thursday, the U.K. has seen more than 1.9 million coronavirus cases and 65,618 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins data. The United States has more than 16.9 million cases and 307,512 deaths.

On Tuesday, "The Great British Baking Show" judge Prue Leith became the first celebrity to publicly receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

More: 'Great British Baking Show' judge Prue Leith, 80, gets COVID-19 vaccine

Leith, an 80-year-old celebrity chef and a longtime United Kingdom resident, tweeted a photo of herself sitting in a doctor's office in Oxfordshire, England, wearing a mask and a signature statement necklace.

"Who wouldn't want immunity from #Covid19 with a painless jab??" she wrote.

The NHS tweeted that Leith was "one of the first" to receive the vaccine Tuesday morning. "Those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers" make up the NHS's second-highest priority group for the vaccine, behind those who live in or work in nursing homes.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID-19 vaccine: Ian McKellen gets it, recommends others do the same