London mayor Sadiq Khan has urged people to take the coronavirus vaccine as soon as they are offered one, after he received the jab himself on Friday morning.
Mr Khan, who was offered a jab because of his severe asthma, received his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at the Mitcham Lane Baptist Church in South West London.
“I feel delighted,” he told Sky News.
“I’m relieved – but I’m also incredibly grateful, not just for the scientists who invented the vaccine, but for our amazing NHS staff and the volunteers who have done a brilliant job here in South London in this Catholic church, but to everyone who’s made this vaccine rollout so successful.”
The mayor said he received the Pfizer vaccine from a reverend he knows, saying she got her licence back to give the jab to him and others.
“This church my daughter used perform ballet in, so it’s a church special to us,” he said.
And he joked: “Just for the avoidance of doubt, I didn’t wince when I had the jab. I was a real brave boy.”
Mr Khan also encouraged others – especially those within Black and Ethnic Minority communities where vaccine hesitancy is more prevalent- to take up the jab.
He urged those who had concerns about the vaccine to talk to someone they trusted, such as their GP, while himself offering assurance that the jab was safe.
“My message is very simple: when you’re invited to receive the jab, please say yes.
“I was contacted by GP because of my serious asthma to receive the jab and I said, ‘Yes’.
“I wouldn’t be taking the jab if I didn’t think it was safe, nor would I have encouraged my mum to take the jab.
“I know out there, there are anti-vaxxers, there are Covid-deniers, there are conspiracy theorists.
“But my concern is not those people – it’s that unfortunately some of our community…because of their suspicion of drug companies, or because of people in positions of power and influence, they’re nervous.
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“My message to them is speak to someone you trust – your GP, your pharmacist, your local Vicar or your Imam or your Rabbi, because they will tell you this vaccine is safe.
“It’s gone through a robust regulatory system, it’s been properly tested, and it will save millions and millions of lives.”
NHS England data shows a total of 1,652,421 jabs were given to Londoners between December 8 and February 16, including 1,587,731 first doses – the lowest of the seven NHS regions – and 64,690 second doses.