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‘What a legend.’ Interview with Mass. lawmaker’s relative goes viral after he gets COVID vaccine in London

Martin Kenyon, 91, outside Guy's Hospital in London, where he received a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday.Mary Turner/NYT

A relative of State Representative Dylan A. Fernandes became an overnight sensation on the internet after he received the vaccine for COVID-19.

Martin Kenyon, 91, was interviewed on CNN after receiving a dose of the vaccine in London on Tuesday. A video of his interview has gone viral.

Fernandes, a Democrat who represents Gosnold, Falmouth, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, said Kenyon is his grandmother’s cousin and shared the video clip of his interview on Twitter, along with tens of thousands of other people. By Wednesday, it had been viewed more than 5.4 million times.

“This is my cousin!!!” Fernandes wrote in the tweet. “He’s 91 & one of the first people to get the vaccine in the world. We all hope to ‘not have that bloody bug now!’ What a legend.”


In the interview, Kenyon talked to CNN’s Cyril Vanier about what it was like getting the highly-anticipated vaccine, including some humorous details, such as why he was late for his appointment.

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

Kenyon said the injection was painless.

“It didn’t hurt at all,” he said. “I didn’t know the needle had gone in until it’d come out.”

When Vanier asked Kenyon how he felt being one of the first people in the world to receive the vaccine, Kenyon provided a frank reply.

“I hope I’m not going to have the bloody bug now,” Kenyon said in the interview. “I don’t intend to have it, because I’ve got granddaughters and I want to live a long time, to enjoy their lives.”


After the interview went viral, Kenyon was the subject of several newspaper articles and was dubbed a “Vaccine hero” and “Covid vaccine star” by the British press. He even made an appearance on the TV show “Good Morning Britain” with Piers Morgan.

During the televised interview Morgan asked how Kenyon was doing now that he was a “global media star.”

“It’s rather ridiculous, isn’t it?” quipped Kenyon.

Fernandes said his family has gotten a kick out of Kenyon’s newfound fame.

“He’s having his viral moment, that’s for sure. The whole family has been cracking up over it,” Fernandes said in a telephone interview. “He’s a legend in the family. He’s just a character and a matter-of-fact guy.”

“He had no idea that he was trending all over the world,” he said. “He was incredulous and couldn’t believe anyone would care about what he called a ‘boring interview.’”

But Fernandes said he understands why people liked the interview so much. He believes it struck a chord with millions of viewers because Kenyon’s matter-of-fact way of telling the story of how he received the vaccine “brings some relief to everyone that the end is going to be in sight.”

After sharing the video of the interview on Twitter, Fernandes tweeted some other fun facts about his relative from across the pond. He wrote that Kenyon “had a really impressive career in international affairs” working “to combat the South African apartheid regime” and was the godfather of one of Desmond Tutu’s daughters.


“Side note, Martin was the first person I ever saw take a flaming shot, this was 16 years ago so he was around 75,” Fernandes tweeted.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at emily.sweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney and on Instagram @emilysweeney22.