Mr. Shakespeare has been hospitalized in Coventry for several weeks since suffering a stroke. On Tuesday after his vaccination, he felt a little frail and took a nap in the afternoon, according to his niece, Emily Shakespeare.
“He’s delighted with it,” Ms. Shakespeare said in a telephone interview about her uncle’s first injection. “He’s dying to come home.”
Countless families around the world have been unable to visit relatives in nursing homes or hospitals during the pandemic, leaving many patients to suffer loneliness, atrophy and depression. Others died alone, and families never got to say goodbye.
So Mr. Shakespeare’s vaccination brought a bit of heartwarming news for people in Britain, and for his family. “He is fed up being in the hospital,” Ms. Shakespeare said, “but today I just want to say that I’m proud that he’s leading the way.”
Britain’s health secretary, Matt Hancock, appeared to shed some tears as he lauded Mr. Shakespeare and the other Britons lining up to be vaccinated in this unspeakably difficult year. More than 60,000 people have died in the United Kingdom in the pandemic.
May Parsons, a nurse at the hospital who administered the dose to Mr. Shakespeare, said the injections were a first step toward giving people a sense of normality. “This is really important for me knowing that they’re going to be safe, that they’re going to be protected,” Ms. Parsons told Sky News.
For all the jokes made about Mr. Shakespeare’s name, his relatives were quick to remind everyone that much more was at stake than the ephemeral fame of “their” William Shakespeare.
“He wants to to see his wife, his children and his grandchildren, who can’t visit him at the moment,” Ms. Shakespeare said of her uncle. “But the outpouring of attention will surely give him a boost.”