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Concerns about vaccination rate among the young ahead of return to university

Sky News logo Sky News 02/08/2021 Milena Veselinovic, news reporter

Ahmed Naas spent his first year at the University of Sheffield stuck in student halls during a cycle of lockdowns.

a group of people standing next to a man in a suit and tie: Students return to lectures in September, but will enough of them be vaccinated? © PA Students return to lectures in September, but will enough of them be vaccinated?

This year he hopes to make up for the experiences he missed, and getting his COVID-19 vaccination was key to that.

Ahmed, 19, said: "I was going to get it but I wasn't very inclined to do it very quickly until I found out about travel, restaurants and concerts and clubbing and all these things which are a part of university students' life and you could be potentially left out if you're not vaccinated.

"For those who are on the fence, that stuff definitely gets a push."

Ed Caffyn-Parsons, a University of Manchester student, is also vaccinated, but he said he is against the concept of a COVID passport, especially in a university setting.

"Any student knows that COVID is not a great risk to them, so it really begs the question what the purpose of it really is," he said.


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"I think for me the most important thing is choice. If people have the choice to get the vaccine, which I think most young people will, it's the most important thing.

"I don't think we should be coerced necessarily," he added.

The government briefly considered introducing COVID passports for lectures, but ditched the idea after a backlash.

Nevertheless, there are still concerns that young people have the highest infection rates but the lowest vaccination rates.

A UNiDAYS survey of 20,000 students found that a third have only had a single dose of the jab, and another third have not been vaccinated at all.

The survey found that eight out of 10 students hope to get both jabs before university starts, but experts said perception that COVID only impacts older people may be driving some hesitancy.

"I think we need to be out there saying: actually you can get sick, there are a lot of younger people currently suffering, they're in hospital and they've not been jabbed," said Professor Lawrence Young, a specialist in viral oncology at Warwick Medical School.

"You can get long COVID, even if you get mild symptoms as a youngster, you can still get long-term effects, but also this will stop the spread of the virus and get us all back to some form of normality," he added.

Experts have urged the government to send students a clear message about why they should get the jab, ahead of the return to lectures next month.

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