"It's a very special day, I feel euphoric," the 81-year-old actor said. "I would have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone. I feel very lucky to have had the vaccine."
The Lord of the Rings star was vaccinated on camera and spoke to ITV News about the experience, praising the U.K.'s National Health Service.
"Next time I come, well no, well six days after next time I come, I'm going to give them all a big hug. Is that allowed? I don't know," McKellen said. "That's been one of the real bonuses of all this, isn't it? To watch and see what works in this country and what doesn't work. And it seems to me the NHS is right at the top of the list of the institutions that do work."
The NHS was formed in 1948, and McKellen was born in 1939. "Of course, I know I wouldn't be alive if it hadn't been for the NHS. I'm a little bit older than the NHS," the X-Men alum told the news outlet. "But when I was a kid, having good medical treatment available when it was needed—what a wonderful notion and what a wonderful definition of what we are as a nation. It's a national health service. We're all equal under the vaccination."
Near the end of the interview, McKellen urged others to get the coronavirus vaccine if they could. "From being a child, I've had injections and I've always thought, 'Ah, good. Here's health coming my way,'" he said. "It is invasive, of course, and it looks like a weapon, a needle, but it isn't. It's a friend. And I would encourage everybody to do the sensible thing—not just for themselves, but for everybody else. Because if you're virus-free, then that helps everybody else, doesn't it?"
The two-time Oscar nominee sent a similar message on Twitter. "I feel very lucky to have had the vaccine," he wrote. "I would have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone."
McKellen is one of several stars to document their experience of getting the COVID-19 vaccination. The Great British Bake Off's Prue Leith and actor Lionel Blair have, as well.