A London man who went viral after his COVID-19 vaccination has a surprising Mass. connection

"I let him know that he is trending all over America, and that millions of Americans have seen his interview. He got a kick out of that. He didn't have any idea."

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When 91-year-old Martin Kenyon stepped out of Guy’s Hospital in London and in front of a CNN camera Tuesday, not even his family knew he was one of the first people in the world to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

His charming interview recalling his vaccination experience quickly went viral — and soon even his relatives over here across the pond knew of Kenyon’s online fame, including his cousin, Cape Cod state Rep. Dylan Fernandes.

A link to Kenyon’s appearance with CNN’s Cyril Vanier made the rounds in Fernandes’s family group chat, the Falmouth Democrat told the State House News Service.

“It was hysterical and totally vintage Martin. He’s a character and an awesome guy who you can always count on to speak his mind,” Fernandes told the outlet. “I literally just got off the phone with him … and I let him know that he is trending all over America, and that millions of Americans have seen his interview. He got a kick out of that. He didn’t have any idea. He didn’t even know it was CNN. So he got a real kick out of it.”

The rollout of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to the general public began Tuesday in the United Kingdom, where officials have received 800,000 doses, or enough to vaccinate 400,000 people. People who are over the age of 80 who are hospitalized or have outpatient appointments scheduled, nursing home workers, and vaccination staffers are among those receiving the first batch of shots.

Kenyon said on CNN he called up the hospital and, after answering some questions, was told to come in.


“Of course, I couldn’t damn well find anywhere to park my car, so I was late,” Kenyon said in the interview. “Anyway, I’m here now and I got inside and they duly put me down the list and I went off and had a rather nasty lunch and then came back. And they were ready for me.”

He hoped to be vaccinated so he could hug his grandchildren again in the coming weeks.

“No point in dying now when I have lived this long, is there?” he quipped. “I don’t plan to anyway.”

Fernandes said he’s related to Kenyon through his grandmother. He told the news service he sees Kenyon at large family events like major birthdays and weddings. Kenyon has stayed with him in Woods Hole before and has taken in some of Fernandes’s hockey games in Falmouth.

The local lawmaker revealed the family connection on Twitter Tuesday and boasted some fun facts about Kenyon, who Fernandes said “was the first person I ever saw take a flaming shot.”

“This was 16 years ago, so he was around 75,” he wrote.

Fernandes also highlighted Kenyon’s “really impressive career in international affairs.”

“He worked to combat the South African apartheid regime and is the godfather of one of Desmond Tutu’s daughters,” he wrote.

Kenyon’s moment in the spotlight continued Wednesday morning as he appeared on ITV’s “Good Morning Britain.”

Co-host Piers Morgan, who watched Kenyon’s CNN clip when it was live on air, remarked to Kenyon “the Americans clearly had no idea what to make of you as you gave a quintessentially stiff upper-lip English interview.”


And Kenyon admitted he can’t make sense of his overnight popularity.

“It’s rather ridiculous, isn’t it?” he said. “I rather hoped it was a sort of 24-hour nonsense … but anyway, here we are.”

Watch the full interview on “Good Morning Britain:”

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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