London, Dec 17 (PTI) Veteran film and stage actor Ian McKellen has received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine and urged others to do the 'sensible thing' of getting a shot when they can.
The 81-year-old star, best known for film franchises like 'The Lord of Rings' and 'X-Men', was amongst the high-risk group of people who received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine first in the UK.
'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?' McKellen said after getting the shot at Queen Mary's University Hospital here on Wednesday.
The actor also praised the National Health Service (NHS), the publicly funded healthcare system of the UK, for its efforts amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
'Next time I come, well no, six days after I next come I'm going to give them all a big hug - is that allowed? I don't know. 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,' McKellen told ITV.com.
'Of course, I know I wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for the NHS. I'm a little bit older than the NHS but when I was a kid, having good medical treatment available when it was needed - what a wonderful notion,' he added.
In a tweet on Thursday, McKellen said he would have 'no hesitation' in recommending the vaccine to anyone.
'I feel very lucky to have had the vaccine,' he continued.
Frontline health and social care workers and the elderly are among the first to receive the vaccine in the country.
Earlier this month, the UK became the first country to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19, paving the way for mass vaccinations against the deadly novel coronavirus. PTI RDS RDS