The Duke of Cambridge has urged people to keep on taking the Covid-19 vaccination so “younger generations” will feel “it’s really important for them to have it”.
William also warned against “rumours and misinformation” on social media about coronavirus jabs, as he and Kate talked by video call with two clinically vulnerable women who have been shielding since last March.
His comments came after the Queen encouraged those hesitant about vaccination to “think about other people rather than themselves”.
The duke’s words were welcomed by Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director of the NHS.
He said: “As we reach the next stage of the biggest and fastest vaccination programme in NHS history, fighting rumours and misinformation around the vaccine is crucial, and I would like to thank the duke and duchess for helping to get this potentially life-saving message out there.
“Thanks to the incredible efforts of our NHS staff, more than 16 million people in England are already vaccinated – it’s never too late to take up the offer and I would urge anyone eligible who has yet to do so to come forward to protect yourself and others.”
Shivali Modha, who has type 2 diabetes, and severe asthma sufferer Fiona Doyle are both now eligible for the vaccine as part of priority group 6, and were preparing to have their jabs when they spoke to the royals on Tuesday.
The Cambridges heard how Mrs Modha, a mother-of-two, had been anxious about the Covid-19 jab after reading things on social media, but has since been reassured by vaccinated family members and medics from the charity Diabetes UK.
William told her: “Catherine and I are not medical experts by any means but if it’s any consolation, we can wholeheartedly support having vaccinations. It’s really, really important.
“We’ve spoken to a lot of people about it and the uptake has been amazing so far. We’ve got to keep it going so the younger generations also feel that it’s really important for them to have it.
“So it’s great that Shivali you’re taking the time to work it out and come to the conclusion that ‘I need to do this’ because social media is awash sometimes with lots of rumours and misinformation, so we have to be a bit careful who we believe and where we get our information from.
“Especially for those who are clinically vulnerable as well, it’s so important that those vaccinations are done, so good luck.”
The royal family have been supporting the NHS in its rollout of the coronavirus vaccine, visiting vaccination centres and thanking staff and volunteers for their efforts.
Some of the UK’s leading health charities, including Diabetes UK and Asthma UK, have formed a coalition to promote vaccine uptake among people with long-term health conditions.
Mrs Modha, 39, from Barnet in north-west London, was joined on the call by her husband Hiren and their daughters Shyaama, 11, and Jyoti, nine.
She replied: “I guess it’s just the unknown and I think that’s the case for most people. It’s just something that is unknown right now. And by the time you’ve had it, it will be A-OK.”
Kate told her: “I hope it comes as a huge relief in the end. I know there’s maybe the anxiety and the worry leading up to it, but I hope for all of you it will add a bit of normality back to your lives and confidence as well as we go forward into the spring, that would be great.”
Thanking the duke and duchess for calling, Mrs Modha told them: “It’s really nice to have you in our home, I wish I could offer you a cup of tea!”
“Same here!” laughed Kate.
The duke and duchess also spoke to Fiona Doyle, 37, and her seven-year-old daughter Ciara, who have been shielding at home in East Finchley, north London, since the Covid-19 crisis began.
She said the charity Asthma UK had been a “real source of support” in dealing with her situation.
Asked by the duke how she felt about the vaccination, she replied: “I can’t wait! I’m priority group six, so any day now I’m really hoping to get called up.”
Ms Doyle added: “I think I’m trying to not see it as a magic cure. I’m not going to go out licking lampposts or anything straight away!”
“Did you used to do that before?” laughed William.
“I’m probably going to do what I do normally,” said Ms Doyle. “I’ll still wear my mask, I’ll still keep my hand gel, still social distance.
“But it’s nice to know that mentally you have that layer of protection and that if you do end up being unfortunate enough to catch it, it won’t be as severe as it might have been without having been vaccinated.”
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country