UK

Sir Desmond Swayne, 64, gets vaccine after refusing to apologise for promoting vaccine sceptics

Tory MP Sir Desmond Swayne has had his coronavirus vaccination just weeks after he was accused of encouraging the anti-vax movement.

The 64-year-old posted a picture on Twitter of him in jogging bottoms and a t-shirt while getting the jab from a nurse.

He wrote this morning: ‘I’ve just had my jab: make sure you can get yours, so that we can all get back to normal life.’

It comes after Sir Desmond refused to apologise for promoting vaccine sceptics by telling people to ‘persist’ with their campaign against lockdown restrictions.

The New Forest West MP later clarified he was unaware of the movement’s position on jabs.

The 64-year-old posted a picture on Twitter of him getting the jab from a nurse while wearing jogging bottoms and a t-shirt

The then Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove told him to retract his remarks and apologise, condemning his Conservative colleague as ‘completely out of order’.

The Conservative Party declined to suspend the lockdown-sceptic over his comments, or for a separate interview with anti-vaxxer Del Bigtree.

Sir Desmond reportedly made the comments to Save Our Rights UK, which argues vaccines are ‘being rushed through safety testing’.

Sir Desmond said he is ‘evangelical’ in his support for the vaccination programme and pointed out he is on record in the House of Commons criticising the way in which the Government has presented data.

Michael Gove

Sir Desmond Swayne

Michael Gove told Tory MP Sir Desmond Swayne to apologise after he allegedly claimed coronavirus statistics had been ‘manipulated’

He said in January: ‘I have always had a great deal of respect for Michael but I’m not sure precisely what I’m being asked to apologise for.

‘I had no idea, indeed I am not aware, of any baggage they hold on anti-vaxx, it’s never been discussed, never been raised.’

He said he was telling the campaigners to ‘persist’ in the campaign against restrictions, but insisted they should stick to the rules.

Due to his age, Sir Desmond was clear to get the vaccine as the current phase of the rollout targets over 60s.

But on Monday former Prime Minister David Cameron raised eyebrows when he got his vaccine after he was called up ‘in the normal way’ – despite being 54.

The former Tory leader said he was ‘proud’ to have received the jab and hailed the NHS for its ‘deeply impressive’ roll-out.

David Cameron today became the latest former Prime Minister to get a coronavirus vaccine

David Cameron today became the latest former Prime Minister to get a coronavirus vaccine

He tweeted a photograph of himself being injected at a clinic, understood to be in London, adding: ‘Huge ‘thank you’ to our brilliant NHS and all the amazing staff.’

He wrote: ‘Huge ”thank you” to our brilliant NHS & all the amazing staff & volunteers working on the UK’s deeply impressive vaccine programme.

‘I was proud to have my jab this morning & encourage everyone to take theirs when the call comes – it’s crucial we look after ourselves & each other.’

His successor Theresa May – 10 years his senior – tweeted about being jabbed last Friday while Tony Blair, 67, revealed he got his first dose on February 20.

Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, 54, also got his coronavirus vaccine on Monday.

He tweeted: ‘Jab done! Thanks to Penny O’Hara and the brilliant volunteers at the RHS Hall including Shreya who actually vaccinated me.’

He added: ‘Brilliantly organised programme – congrats ⁦@MattHancock &⁩ ⁦@nadhimzahawi’.

Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, 54, also tweeted he got his coronavirus jab today

Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, 54, also tweeted he got his coronavirus jab today

Mr Cameron's successor Theresa May – 10 years his elder – tweeted about being jabbed on Friday

Mr Cameron’s successor Theresa May – 10 years his elder – tweeted about being jabbed on Friday

For Labour leader and Prime Minister Tony Blair, 67, revealed he got his first dose on February 20

For Labour leader and Prime Minister Tony Blair, 67, revealed he got his first dose on February 20

It is unclear why Mr Cameron was invited for the jab, given that the programme was only officially expanded to people over 60 on Monday.

Local vaccination teams have been moving down through the age groups if they are ahead of schedule or if not enough people higher on the priority list come forward. 

The latter has been a particular problem in London, where uptake has lagged behind the rest of the country.

Vaccine hesitancy among black, Asian and ethnic minority groups is thought to be behind poorer rates in the capital’s boroughs.

Representatives for Mr Cameron – who lives in Holland Park, West London but also has a home in the Cotswolds – said he did not have an undisclosed health condition and that he ‘got the call in the normal way and went as soon as he could’. 

It will nonetheless fuel concerns that the vaccine roll out has become a ‘postcode lottery’.

Healthy people in their twenties and thirties have already been jabbed in some parts of the country.

Sir Desmond has been approached for further details on his vaccination.


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