politics

Roll up, roll up: UK circus offers vaccine as take-up slows in under-25s


Pop-up vaccine centres are being set up at festivals, sporting events and even a circus in England this weekend, as the NHS bids to boost take-up among younger people.

The latest official data shows that 60% of 18- to 25-year-olds have received at least one jab since all over-18s were invited to come forward for vaccination last month.

But ministers are concerned that demand among younger age groups appears to be levelling off, despite the threat of vaccine passports for venues such as nightclubs.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) believes perceived inconvenience may be one of the key factors deterring younger adults from taking up the offer of vaccination, and are setting up more pop-up sites to make it hassle-free.

Members of the public visiting Circus Extreme in Halifax – or even just passing the circus big top – will be able to get vaccinated, as well as fans at Burnley FC and punters at Goodwood race course.

Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and deputy lead for NHS England’s vaccination programme, said: “From festivals to farm shops, circus tents and stadiums, NHS teams are working hard to set up vaccine clinics at a huge range of popular locations, all with the aim of getting as many people vaccinated as possible.”

Officials say they have been encouraged by the take up of existing drop-in vaccination centres, and will be monitoring the age breakdown of users, to establish whether they are successfully attracting the hardest to reach age-groups.

The announcement earlier this month that the government plans to legislate to bar vaccine refuseniks from nightclubs was aimed partly at increasing the incentive for young people to come forward.

It is unclear whether Boris Johnson will have enough support from MPs to implement the measure when the House of Commons returns from its summer recess, however – and several Tory MPs have said they would boycott the Conservative party conference rather than be forced to prove their vaccine status.

As of 16 August, adults who have received both doses of the vaccine will also be allowed to skip quarantine after coming into close contact with someone who has Covid, marking another dividing line with those who have not been jabbed.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove suggested earlier this week that adults failing to get the vaccine were “selfish”.

But the government’s messaging – carried in adverts online, on TV and on billboards – has mainly focused on the benefits of getting back to normal life.



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