Elton John and Michael Caine front NHS vaccine ad

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image copyrightNHS England
image captionSir Elton John and Sir Michael Caine have both had a Covid jab

Sir Elton John and Sir Michael Caine have fronted a humorous new NHS advert encouraging people to get a Covid-19 vaccine.

The rock star and actor, who have both had the vaccine, appear to audition for the role of reassuring the public that they are safe and effective.

More than 12 million people in the UK have had at least one dose of a vaccine.

Two different ones are currently being used, and a third has been approved.

Sir Elton, 73, said he wanted to take part in the film "to help show people the benefits of getting vaccinated and how it helps protect ourselves and the people we love."

"So, I hope we can all come together and do our bit in the fight against this wretched disease," he added.

The ad is part of a wider effort to counter cynicism or suspicion towards the roll-out of vaccines.

The film shows the Rocketman and Italian Job movie star supposedly auditioning for an advert promoting the jab.

The former is asked by the director to deliver his lines in a less (and then more) "showbiz" manner, before being encouraged to show off his impression of Sir Michael - which he does surprisingly well.

media captionElton John was told in the ad that he didn't get the part after Michael Caine auditioned for the same role

On a more serious note, Sir Elton is seen saying: "The more people in society who get vaccinated, the more chance there is of eradicating the national Covid pandemic."

He then stresses that the vaccines "have all been through and met the necessary safety and quality standards".

The rock 'n' roll star then pretends to get the jab before bursting into a deliberately unconvincing rendition of his 1983 hit, I'm Still Standing.

The seemingly underwhelmed director thanks him and says, "We will let you know", to which Sir Elton retorts: "Well, at this short notice you won't find anyone bigger".

It then cuts to Sir Michael, 87, delivering two of his signature lines, after having received the jab.

"Hello, my name is Michael Caine," he says. "I've just had a vaccine for Covid. It didn't hurt - not many people know that."

Incidentally, 10 years ago, the Oscar-winner said he was fed up of being associated with that catchphrase because he did not come up with it. "I have never said, 'Not Many People Know That'," he wrote on ICorrect.com at the time; and later repeated on the Michael Parkinson show.

The phrase had mistakenly become linked to him after Peter Sellers used it as part of an impression he did of Sir Michael in 1972.

The NHS film ends with the director thanking Sir Michael for the audition, before quipping, 'OK let the little fella {Sir Elton] know he didn't get the job'."

Who is being vaccinated now?

Vaccines are given to the most vulnerable first. A list of high-priority groups - covering up to 99% of those most at risk of dying - is being followed.

Anyone aged 70 or over in England and has not yet been vaccinated is now being asked to contact the NHS to book an appointment online or by calling 119 free of charge.

Most NHS frontline staff, care home residents and workers, and over 80s have been vaccinated. Some areas are now inviting over 60s.

All four nations of the UK follow these priorities, but the roll-out varies between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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