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Watch: Prince William proud of Queen and Duke for getting COVID-19 vaccine
Prince William has said he is proud of his grandmother and grandfather - the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh - for having the COVID-19 vaccine as he urged others to get their first dose as soon as it is available to them.
The Duke of Cambridge praised the “world-beating NHS” as millions of vulnerable people across the UK receive at least their first coronavirus vaccine dose during a video call with key workers on Thursday.
He said: “My grandparents have had the vaccine and I am very proud of them for doing that. It is really important that everyone gets the vaccine when they are told to.”
In a rare move, the Queen revealed on 9 January that she and her husband Prince Philip had received their COVID-19 vaccines at Windsor Castle. The palace does not frequently give details of the monarch’s private healthcare.
The prince, 38, spoke to NHS workers and volunteers involved in the rollout of the coronavirus vaccines, which is currently being offered to some key workers and to those in vulnerable age groups.
More than 3m people had had at least their first dose by Friday, and the government is hopeful of vaccinating 15m people by the middle of February.
On a call with some of those involved, the Duke of Cambridge said: “I want to say a huge congratulations to everyone involved in the vaccination programme because it looks tremendous, it really does.
“I know what a massive difference it is going to make to everyone. It is also worth pointing out I think that this isn’t something that happens really easily and that everyone has access to around the world.
“This is because we have a world-leading NHS and we have the right people, research and development here.”
William spoke to Dr Helen Alefounder, a GP at Rysseldene Surgery in Colwyn Bay, Dalene Steele, a nurse and clinical lead on COVID-19 vaccinations in care homes across Ayrshire and Arran, Jake Plummer, a volunteer flow manager at Solent NHS Trust and University Hospital Southampton, Bronagh Hegarty, a pharmacist at Altnagelvin Hospital, Londonderry and Dr Nikki Kanani, Medical Director of Primary Care for NHS England and NHS Improvement.
Watch: William and Kate check in with emergency service workers
Dr Nikki Kanani, a GP in south-east London and medical director of Primary Care for NHS England and NHS Improvement, said they were facing some hesitancy during the rollout.
She said: “We do have vaccine hesitancy in some groups. It is really important to get into communities, ethnically diverse communities, and more deprived communities to say ‘this is your vaccine as well, it’s for everyone not just for some communities’. Getting that uptake is really important.”
She stressed that others should still continue to follow the coronavirus guidelines, because the country is not in the position where “we can hug all the people we want to”.
Dr Kanani added: “It has been an incredible piece of work between doctors, nurses, pharmacists, volunteers, admin staff, reception staff, people just pulling out the stops to do something incredibly difficult.”
Dr Helen Alefounder, a GP at Rysseldene Surgery in Colwyn Bay, Wales, told the duke that north-east Wales had been worse hit than west.
She said “We are still seeing sick patients, are still having to deal with everything we would normally do as a practice and (are) very thankful to staff giving up their evenings and weekends to try and help vaccinate because it really is the most important thing we can be doing.”
Plummer, a Saints Foundation volunteer, said after the call: “It’s been a privilege to be a part of the vaccine rollout – in my role I’ve been able provide that friendly face that people need whilst they’re getting vaccinated, especially as it can be a daunting experience for some.
“I’ve met so many different people of all ages and backgrounds, and to meet the duke today and be able to discuss with him how important this effort is really was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Speaking after the call Dr Kanani said: “Everyone on the frontline, volunteers and NHS staff have all pulled together and worked so tremendously hard to ensure the vaccine rollout is a success, and it is fantastic that the Duke of Cambridge has taken the time to boost morale for all those across the UK who are so integral to this effort.”
The coronavirus vaccine rollout is the biggest in Britain’s history, and hundreds of vaccination centres have been set up across the country to ensure everyone can receive one.
People are asked not to contact their GP, as they will be contacted when it is their turn to get the vaccine.
Back in June, Prince William visited scientists at Oxford Vaccine Group facility in Churchill Hospital as they developed the vaccine, which is now one of those being rolled out nationwide.
He also spoke to volunteers who were being vaccinated regularly as part of the trial.
In November, when the team announced the effectiveness of their vaccination, he called them to congratulate them on their work.
William’s call was made on Thursday, the day after he and Kate spoke to other frontline workers and counsellors about the mental health support on offer for those affected by working in this pandemic.
William, a former air ambulance pilot, said he was worried about the rate of deaths those in the NHS have to deal with, and said “you see the world in a much more, slightly depressed, darker, blacker place”.