Comedian and actor Stephen Fry has described receiving his coronavirus vaccination at Westminster Abbey as a “wonderful moment”.
The Cambridge University alumnus joked that he would have to “put petty rivalries behind me”, after being given a dose of the Oxford jab.
Westminster Abbey opened its doors for the first time on Wednesday morning to administer vaccinations to members of the public.
The vaccination area is situated directly above Poet’s Corner, where many literary giants including Charles Dickens and Geoffrey Chaucer are buried.
Fry said it was “extraordinary” to have received his jab in such a “symbolic” place, and he hailed the “vindication of science and research.”
He said: “It’s a wonderful moment, but you feel that it’s not only helpful for your own health, but you know that you’re likely to be less contagious if you yourself happen to carry it.
“It’s a symbol of being part of society, part of the group that we all want to protect each other and get this thing over and done with.
“I’m so excited and it’s such a vindication of science and research and slow discovery and experiment.
“It’s not over yet by any means but it’s a wonderful step.”
Referring to his own jab, he said it had been “painless” but added: “The only bad side of this, for a Cambridgeman, is to have an Oxford vaccine.
“It’s the wrong colour blue as far as I’m concerned, but I suppose I’ll have to put those kinds of petty rivalries behind me.”
The former QI host said there had been a “positive vibe” at the centre and he feels people are pleased to be making a difference.
“We all do this and it helps, and that’s a strong feeling especially in a world where we’re so divided in other things,” he said.
“If we can unite at least about ourselves as a species, because it’s a pandemic… then maybe that will help us with other fights we have.”
Fry also praised the “gorgeous” NHS and other staff members at centres across the country who are helping with the national vaccination effort.
“It’s amazing to see the morale being so high after such a long time and the remarkable spirit that you have.
“It’s so appreciated.
“I know you hear this a lot and would love to hear it in other forms like financial ones, and we’re all behind you there, but I just want to say thank-you.
“Good luck and stay safe yourselves.”
David Hoyle, Dean of Westminster Abbey, said he was “delighted” to be able to offer the space as a vaccination centre.
“We are used to having this place absolutely full of people and it feels very, very peculiar and frankly wrong to have it empty,” he added.
“To be part of making this country safe and healthy again, that is an immense privilege and we are really pleased to be doing this.”
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “From mosques, churches, cathedrals and temples to sports grounds, shopping centres and museums, the NHS Covid vaccination programme, the biggest in health service history, is committed to making it as quick and convenient as possible for everyone to get the life-saving jab.
“Now Westminster Abbey, steeped in history, is the latest site to open its doors as this huge national endeavour to protect the nation continues to gather pace.”