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No surprises: over 24s break the record for COVID vaccine bookings

The UK government spun a narrative of vaccine skepticism among young people – but after a year of sacrifices, it was always obvious the uptake would be high

On Tuesday (June 8) – the first day that 25 to 29-year-olds could book – over one million people made an appointment for a COVID vaccine in England, breaking the record for the most bookings ever in a day. 

The milestone was met with amazement by many media outlets, who have been peddling the government’s false narrative of vaccine skepticism among the youth for months. Before they were even offered the vaccine, young people were accused of being apathetic towards it because COVID doesn’t pose as big a threat to them as older people. Government figures even suggested introducing vaccine passports for pubs in an attempt to “nudge” uptake among younger age groups. 

Unsurprising to young people, as soon as they were offered the vaccine, there was a Glastonbury-style rush for appointments. As reported by Simple Politics, between 7AM and 12PM on Tuesday, there were 100,000 bookings per hour – four times higher than the current ‘normal’.

“I am absolutely thrilled young people have come forward for the jab in full force today,” health secretary Matt Hancock said on Tuesday. “We have one of the highest vaccine uptake rates in the world and these latest booking figures are testament to this.”

Of course, high vaccine uptake among over 24s shouldn’t come as a shock. Young people have spent the last year making sacrifices to protect the most vulnerable, and are itching for restrictions to be lifted – the vaccine finally offers a way out of the pandemic.

In a piece for inews, journalist Chloe Chaplain cites a recent ONS report which states that 17 per cent of 16 to 29-year-olds expressed hesitancy towards the coronavirus vaccine. She says “this data only tells part of the story” – but, as pointed out by writer Jason Okundaye, there’s a difference between vaccine hesitancy and skepticism. Indeed, many young people are hesitant about getting the vaccine – in part because of its short-term side effects. Many young people work in the gig economy, where they may be on zero hour contracts. Without access to sick leave, a post-vaccine illness could potentially cost them hundreds of pounds. For young people, who were more than twice as likely to lose their jobs during the pandemic, being rendered unable to go to work because of the vaccine may not be a viable option.

This premature accusation about vaccine skepticism isn’t the first time young people have been scapegoated by the government. In September, Hancock blamed a rise in coronavirus cases on young people, suggesting that their alleged rule-breaking was responsible for the spike. The following month, young people were vindicated when research revealed that the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme was actually linked to a significant increase in cases over summer 2020.

Students in particular have been handed a raw deal by the government. After being told it was safe to return to university, students were blamed for an inevitable rise in cases, before being locked – and in some cases, literally caged – inside their halls of residence. Many students across the UK have risen up against their mistreatment by withholding their rent, which they were still expected to pay despite being legally unable to return to university after Christmas. 

You can read more about students’ halls hell during their October 2020 lockdowns here. And, when you’re done, you can book your COVID vaccine here.