Vaccine: Doctor says you ‘can’t hope way into immunity’
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Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the nation's young people who stepped forward to get vaccinated are "helping to build a wall of defence around our country". Around 67 percent of people aged 18-29 in England have already received a first dose of a vaccine. Businesses including Uber, Bolt, Deliveroo and Pizza Pilgrims are among the first to join a “national effort” to get young people to protect themselves and their loved ones.
In a move already dubbed "cabs for jabs", Uber will offer discounted rides and meals on Uber Eats, as well as sending reminders to users to get vaccinated.
Food delivery service Deliveroo will give young people vouchers.
A spokeswoman said: “At Deliveroo we want to do our small part to support the NHS during the pandemic, including delivering one million free meals to frontline NHS staff and vaccine centres. This is the next step in helping people get vaccinated and safely back to normal.”
Ride-hailing company Bolt will offer free ride credit to vaccination centres, and more companies are expected to announce incentives in the coming days.
Health secretary Sajid Javid said: "I'm delighted that more than two thirds of young people in England have already had a first dose of a vaccine, helping to build a wall of defence around our country. Thank you to all the businesses who are stepping up to support this important vaccine drive.
"Once available, please go out and take advantage of the discounts. The lifesaving vaccines not only protect you, your loved ones and your community, but they are helping to bring us back together by allowing you to get back to doing the things you've missed."
More than 600,000 people were vaccinated last weekend at pop-up "grab a jab" vaccine sites.
Businesses will offer incentives for young people to have jabs (Image: GETTY)
These have opened at locations ranging from London's Tate Modern Gallery to a Primark in Bristol. New sites include Thorpe Park in Surrey and Circus Extreme in Yorkshire.
Overall, 84.7million doses have been administered in the UK, with 46.7million people getting a first jab (88.4 percent) and 37.9million people receiving both (71.8%).
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: "It is great to see the strong enthusiasm among young people so far to get their vaccines. Getting both doses of the jab is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and avoid unknowingly passing the virus on to someone who may be more vulnerable to Covid-19.
"Thank you to the businesses who have backed this mission – please get your jabs as soon as you can and grab a bargain."
Around 60,000 deaths, 22 million infections and 52,600 hospitalisations have been prevented by vaccines, according to Public Health England (PHE) and Cambridge University.
However, there is strong opposition to suggestions that people could be banned from workplaces, venues or events unless they are double-jabbed.
The Government has made clear that by the end of September, by which time it expects everyone aged 18-plus to have had the chance to get fully jabbed, it plans to make full vaccination a condition of entry to certain venues where large crowds gather.
There is concern that the NHS app could be used as a de facto "vaccine passport". A new section allows people to share proof of their Covid status.
The app states: "You may need to show your NHS Covid Pass at places that have chosen to use the service."
Employers have been warned by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to be "proportionate" and "non-discriminatory" in the wake of concerns about "no jab, no job" policies coming in.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said changing the NHS app to allow it to double up as a vaccine passport was an "abuse of democracy".
He said: "They are trying to do this in the recess when Parliament isn't sitting – it is a disgrace. It is an abuse of democracy, it is an abuse of power and it threatens taking people's freedoms away and stigmatising young people, hitting businesses – that is not acceptable and the Liberal Democrats are going to call them out."
Parliament has approved legislation to introduce compulsory Covid-19 vaccinations for care home staff in England.
Any move to legislate for formal vaccine passports would likely trigger a rebellion in Tory ranks.
Sir Graham Brady, the recently re-elected chairman of the powerful 1922 committee which represents backbench Conservatives, said: "I think vaccine passports for domestic use are discriminatory and grossly unfair to young people who are already suffering and have suffered so much over the last 18 months."
Sir Desmond Swayne, a leading critic of lockdown, is deeply opposed to the use of vaccine passports, which he fears would be a "stalking horse" for identity cards.
He said he expected that if there was an attempt to legislate for vaccine passports there would be a rebellion "well beyond the number that would be needed" to defeat the Government, potentially involving 60 to 70 Conservative MPs.
The New Forest West Conservative MP suggested that present talk of vaccine passports may be part of a strategy to persuade young people to get jabbed.
He said: "I just wonder if the whole thing isn't a ruse."
Sir John Hayes, who chairs the all-party group on funeral and bereavement is seeking "urgent reassurance" from Health Secretary Sajid Javid that funerals will not be included in the vaccine passport scheme.
He has written to Mr Javid, warning there is uncertainty and confusion as to whether large funerals could count as "mass gatherings".
He said: "In recent months, restrictions have been placed on the funeral and death care sector, limiting the number of mourners allowed to attend services. Now these restrictions have been lifted, it would be a shame to see the industry's recent hard work to lift the limit on mourners nullified by the currently unclear guidance on 'mass gatherings'."
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Sir John added that "similar reassurances about weddings and baptisms would be welcomed".
A Government spokesperson declined to give specific assurances, saying: "As the prime minister said, we reserve the right to do what is necessary to protect the public and reduce transmission, including mandating the NHS Covid Pass in certain settings. We are working closely with organisations that operate large, crowded settings, where people are likely to be in close proximity to others outside their household, to encourage the use of the NHS Covid Pass, where appropriate."
Yesterday, the Department for Education confirmed it does not intend to require students to prove they have been double-vaccinated before they can attend classes
Ministers had not ruled out making it mandatory for students to be fully jabbed, but yesterday the department gave its clearest signal yet this will no be required.
A Government spokeswoman said: "Vaccinations are important in helping to keep higher education settings safe for when students return in the autumn term and we strongly encourage all students to take up the offer of both vaccine doses. The government currently has no plans to require the use of the NHS Covid Pass for access to learning however universities and FE colleges are encouraged to promote the offer of the vaccine and should continue to conduct risk assessments for their particular circumstances."
As recently as Thursday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said students would get "advance warning" if they needed to be double-jabbed, fuelling speculation that vaccinations would be mandatory.
The Government's statement comes in the wake of research which suggests nine out of 10 students have been, or are likely be, vaccinated.
There is intense opposition to vaccine passports from leading think tanks.
John Macdonald of the Adam Smith Institute said: "There is no reason businesses shouldn't be able to operate to their own standards, according to their assessment of the risks coronavirus presents. However, a state-mandated vaccine passport system would be a gross violation of civil liberties…
"Young people have had to deal with overbearing, intrusive incompetence through the pandemic with the exams fiasco, a diminished student experience and being disproportionately affected by the loss of jobs. Time and time again, they were promised that come 'freedom day', they would be able to enjoy clubs and festivals without restriction.
"Reneging on that now is not just a brazen betrayal of trust, it will burn whatever little goodwill is left between the young and the Government."
Christopher Snowdon of the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: "Vaccine passports would be illiberal, discriminatory and economically damaging… They could only be justified if we were aiming for 'zero Covid,' but that is not the policy – nor should it be…
"We should encourage young people to get their jabs, but the protection of others does not depend on it, and therefore there is no case for coercion."
Claire Walker, co-executive director of the British Chambers of Commerce, described the uncertainty in the business community, saying: "It is still not clear which businesses will be required to check NHS Covid Passes for admission from September nor how this will be implemented. Businesses need to know what systems and equipment will be used to verify the validity of such a pass and what the data protection and employment implications might be.
"Until the position is made much clearer we cannot see many businesses in England being persuaded to voluntarily introduce Covid passports."
The debate about vaccine passports has stirred concern in some quarters about the power of the state.
Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch said: "Vaccine passports will harm public health and are a danger to a free society. There is plenty of good evidence that using coercive techniques undermine people’s confidence in vaccines.
"Vaccine passports are a coercive, controlling and cruel way to get people to have the vaccine. They will simply serve to alienate people, which does more harm for public health.
"It is moving towards a system of Health ID points and checkpoints… The line between encouraging people to get the vaccine and coercion has been crossed.
"Once a form of digital ID is put into place then it opens the way to introduce other forms of ID."
Ms Carlo said her group is regularly contacted by people who are scared of losing their jobs because they are reluctant to have the vaccine.
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