To be or not to be vaccinated, that was the question for an 81-year-old Warwickshire, England native who shares the same name as one of the most famous men in history. Reuters reported William Shakespeare received the coronavirus vaccine on Dec. 8 at University Hospital Coventry, and he was just the second person outside of clinical trials to receive the vaccine.
Vaccination with the Pfizer/BioNTech-developed doses began across Britain for people over 80 and select healthcare workers, according to the BBC. The first vaccine administered on the historic day was received by 90-year-old Margaret Keenan, who queued up in Coventry. She said, “I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against COVID-19.”
“It’s the best early birthday present I could wish for because it means I can finally look forward to spending time with my family and friends in the new year after being on my own for most of the year,” she said. “My advice to anyone offered the vaccine is to take it. If I can have it at 90, then you can have it too.”
The BBC reported that British Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who has dubbed Dec. 8 “V-day,” said this simple act of vaccination was “a tribute to scientific endeavour and human ingenuity and to the hard work of so many people.”
“Today marks the start of the fight back against our common enemy, the coronavirus,” he added.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who had a high-profile battle against COVID-19 in April, also weighed in on the vaccination efforts, noting that getting vaccinated was “good for you and good for the whole country.”
Johnson was touring London hospitals to speak with some of the first to receive more than 800,000 doses in the coming weeks. Attributing his recovery to National Health Service (NHS) doctors and nurses, Johnson was forthcoming about his battle with the virus this past spring, which included three nights in a London hospital ICU fighting coronavirus-related complications.
But it was William Shakespeare getting the vaccine who received plenty of media attention. While the 81-year-old—who hails from the same region as his historic namesake—was fairly understated to media, saying he was “pleased” to be “given the jab” and reporting that hospital staff were “wonderful,” a number of people took to social media to make puns merging Shakespeare’s works with the pandemic.
Those included “a plague on neither of your houses,” “the Two Gentlemen of Corona,” and the not-quite-accurate-but-still-amusing “the Taming of the Flu.”
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