Rupert Murdoch, the 89-year-old media patriarch, received an initial dose of Covid-19 vaccine this week at a doctor’s office near his residence west of London.
The Guardian reported that Murdoch was vaccinated at his doctor’s office in Henley, Oxfordshire, on Wednesday. The chairman of Fox Corp. and executive chairman of News Corp. joined a growing list of recognizable figures receiving the vaccine in recent days, among them actor Ian McKellen and Vice President Mike Pence.
A statement issued to media outlets on Murdoch’s behalf said he “would like to thank the keyworkers and the [National Health Service] staff who have worked so hard throughout the pandemic, and the amazing scientists who have made this vaccine possible.”
Murdoch, who has been riding out the pandemic in the UK with wife Jerry Hall Murdoch since last summer, said he was notified that his age qualified him to get the vaccine. UK citizens aged 80 and older have been classified in the second tier of vaccination eligibility, after front-line health care workers.
The administering of Murdoch’s shot coincided with Fox News host Tucker Carlson telling viewers this week that they should be wary of the vaccine’s “marketing campaign.” While maintaining he is “strongly supportive” of the vaccine, he cautioned, “It feels false because it is. It’s too slick.” He also repeated a widely debunked conspiracy theory centering on Bill and Melinda Gates.
Fox’s opinion hosts — and some pundits and daytime hosts on occasion — have repeatedly blasted the “propaganda” of safety experts warning about Covid-19 and recommending shutdowns.
Health officials and President-elect Joe Biden have warned that the vaccines — Moderna’s is expected to get FDA approval for emergency use, joining Pfizer’s — could fail to wipe out the virus if enough people refuse to take them. Surveys have indicated a significant degree of mistrust in the vaccines, which were developed in a fraction of the time usually required. The issue is a significant one in the U.S., with the vaccines rolling out at the end of a tumultuous year marked by the pandemic, the election and racial uprisings.
President Donald Trump has yet to receive the vaccine, with the White House explaining that the therapies he received for his own case of Covid-19 are still proving effective.