81-year-old man named William Shakespeare is second person in the U.K. to receive COVID-19 vaccine – CBS News

An 81-year-old man became the second person to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in the U.K. on Tuesday, but he gained worldwide attention over his name: William Shakespeare.

Shakespeare, who hails from Warwickshire, the county where the famous English poet was born, got his shot at University Hospital Coventry. Shortly after receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, Shakespeare said it was “groundbreaking” for him to be getting one.

“It could make a difference to our lives from now on, couldn’t it?” he said. “It’s started changing our lives and our lifestyle.”

The first 800,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in the U.K. are going to people older than 80 who are either hospitalized or already have outpatient appointments scheduled, along with nursing home workers. The U.K. is getting a head start on the project after British regulators gave emergency authorization on Dec. 2 to the vaccine produced by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech. The first recipient was grandmother Margaret Keenan, who turns 91 next week.

As for Shakespeare, the octogenarian’s name drew a light-hearted response from many, mostly online puns on the late Shakespeare’s works such as “Taming of the Shrew” and “The Two Gentlemen of Verona.”

One user referenced “Hamlet” in a tweet about England’s most popular patient: “If Margaret Keenan is patient 1A for the vaccine, would William Shakespeare be 2B, or not 2B …”

In response to a tweet, a woman who claimed she was Shakespeare’s niece, said he’d like to see his family soon. 

“That’s my lovely Uncle you’re talking about,” she said. “And at some point he’d like to see his wife, children and grandchildren who can’t visit him at the moment. A very worthy recipient.”

U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock seemingly shed a tear in a television interview upon hearing that Shakespeare got his vaccine.

“It’s been such a tough year for so many people and there’s William Shakespeare putting it so simply, for everybody, that we can get on with our lives,” he said.

U.S. and European Union authorities are also reviewing the vaccine Shakespeare took, along with rival products developed by U.S. biotechnology company Moderna and though a collaboration between Oxford University and drugmaker AstraZeneca.