Why are some young people not getting vaccinated?

Some younger people in the UK have not yet received their first dose of the Covid vaccine

The UK is among the leading nations in the world when it comes to the rollout of Covid vaccinations, with more than 37 million people having now received both doses.

But there’s growing concern over vaccine uptake among younger people.

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So much so that there are now reports that the government wants to insist that students will have to be fully vaccinated to attend lectures or stay in halls of residence, while Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently announced that Covid passports could be put in place for nightclubs in England by September.

Some younger people in the UK have not yet received their first dose of the Covid vaccine (Graphic: Kim Mogg)

This comes as some younger people in the UK have not yet received their first dose of the Covid vaccine, despite appointments now being available to book and walk-ins centres open in many areas.

But why have some of those aged under 30 not yet received the Covid vaccine?

What proportion of young people have been vaccinated so far?

In England, data from NHS England shows that, as of 18 July, 64.4% of those aged 18-24 have received their first dose of the Covid vaccine, with 68.9% of 25-29-year-olds having received one jab.

However, according to data from HSC (Northern Ireland’s public health agency), just 58% of those aged 18-29 in Northern Ireland have received their first dose of the Covid-19 Vaccine, as of 26 July.

Meanwhile in Wales, Public Health Wales data shows that as of 18 July, 73.8% of 18-29-year-olds have received their first dose, with 71.5% of the same age group having received their first Covid jab in Scotland as of 24 July, according to Public Health Scotland.

‘I wouldn’t say I’m too keen on the idea of getting it’

A 24-year-old from High Wycombe, who wished to remain anonymous, said although he’s not “totally against getting the vaccine,” he is “more willing to take the risk with getting Covid at the moment”.

He said he doesn’t feel that the vaccine “should really be that necessary to people my age, as it’s not been trialled for long-term effects” and, after contracting Covid two weeks ago and not experiencing extreme symptoms, he believes his immune system “will just do the job”.

However, he did note that one of his big worries around not getting the vaccine - and a reason he may end up getting one - is due to his job involving European travel, but he added: “overall for now I wouldn’t say I’m too keen on the idea of getting it”.

Callum Weston, a third year medicine student at the University of Edinburgh and a vaccine delivery driver, said that the vaccine uptake in the younger adult population “has not yet reached levels expected”.

He explains that during his time working within the Covid vaccine programme as a driver he has seen “many clinics working far below capacity with a noticeable difference depending on the generation being vaccinated”.

However, Mr Weston feels that more could be done “to make the voices of those who are hesitant to take the vaccine heard”.

He believes this would then allow for a much more productive discussion between the science and healthcare fields and the general public, therefore limiting misinformation and providing people with accurate information to allow them to make “an informed decision on the vaccine”.

Mr Weston believes that allowing the younger generation to feel heard about their concerns would enable them to “understand the reasons to take a vaccine,” which in turn “should increase uptake”.

Why being vaccinated is important for younger people

Although the risk of serious illness is vastly reduced in the younger age groups, scientists are clear on the benefits of being protected by a vaccination against Covid.

One study found under-50s who do end up in hospital with Covid are almost as likely to suffer from complications with kidneys, lungs and other organs, even if they are less likely to die.

There are also the issues around long Covid, and another study recently reported that vaccination can help improve symptoms over the longer term.