Queen blasts COVID anti-vaxxers
The Queen has made a stand against anti-vaccination groups, saying that people hesitant to have a coronavirus jab need to "think about other people".
In a remarkable intervention, the 94-year-old monarch encouraged those with doubts about the vaccines to follow her example to get "protected".
It comes as Britain has vaccinated 19 million people, including the Queen.
"Well once you have a vaccine you have a feeling of you know, you're protected, which is I think very important," she said.
"As far as I can make out it was quite harmless."
And the Queen, who supported the polio vaccine in 1957 by allowing Prince Charles to be jabbed, said that people who were wary of the vaccine needed to think of the greater good.
"I think the other thing is; it is obviously difficult for people if they've never had a vaccine," she said.
"They ought to think about other people rather than themselves."
The Queen revealed how her coronavirus jab "didn't hurt at all" as she thanked British health workers for their successful coronavirus vaccine roll out.
The 94-year-old joined a video call to offer her support for the vaccination program, which has jabbed 19 million people so far.
The success in Britain comes as Europe's program has become a shambles. Germany has more than 1 million unused doses sitting in fridges and Chancellor Angela Merkel has refused to be vaccinated on camera.
And French president Emmanuel Macron did an about face, saying he would take the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab after previously, incorrectly, saying it was "quasi ineffective".
Britain was on track to offer all adults a vaccine by July 31, with those over 50 and with an underlying health condition to get an invitation before April 15.
The Queen told leaders from National Health Service staff in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland of her gratitude for their work.
And she encouraged others to roll up their sleeves.
"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. And the jab - it didn't hurt at all," she said of her vaccine.
The decision to release the video of the Queen's call comes as Britain has a sprint of vaccinations ahead of the reopening of schools on March 8, and non-essential shops on April 12.
People will also be able to have a beer outside at their local pub from April 12, as Britain inches back to normal following more than 120,000 coronavirus deaths.
Both of Australia's chosen vaccines, the Oxford AstraZeneca jab, and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, have been used in the British program.
So far, there have been positive signs of effectiveness, with the number of people in hospital in England falling to 12,033 - the lowest number since November 10.
Derek Grieve, Head of the Scottish Government's Vaccinations Division, told the Queen his team was working to reach people in remote areas.
He said people in Scotland had been backing the vaccine campaign.
"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," he said.
The Royal Family has been spruiking the jabs program this week, with Prince William visiting a vaccine centre on Monday.
Sophie, Countess of Wessex, the Queen's daughter-in-law, worked as a St John's Ambulance volunteer at a vaccine centre on Thursday.
However, there remains some concern about take up among nursing home staff.
"I think healthcare workers have always had a professional responsibility to take steps themselves to prevent them from being in a position where they could harm patients through infectious diseases they might have," Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, England's deputy chief medical officer, said.
And Britain was worried about lower take up among minority groups.
Meanwhile, Germany has only vaccinated 6 per cent of its population, with Ms Merkel rejecting calls for her to take the Oxford jab.
"I do not belong to the recommended age group for AstraZeneca," she told a German newspaper.
However, she backed the Oxford AstraZeneca jab, even though it has been restricted to under 65s in Germany.
"AstraZeneca is a reliable vaccine, effective and safe, approved by the European Medical Agency and recommended in Germany up to the age of 65 years. All the authorities tell us that this vaccine can be trusted," she said.
Mr Macron, after previously criticising the Oxford jab during a dispute about supplies, has now changed his tune.
"If that's the vaccine that's offered to me, I will take it, of course," he said, when asked about the Oxford vaccine.
Originally published as Queen blasts COVID anti-vaxxers