The vaccine vs the young

A cover of Dinah Washington’s song, ‘what a difference a day makes’ is the backing track to the government’s recently released television advert targeting younger generations to get a vaccine. Whilst this advert is a heart-warming depiction of the efforts of NHS workers in the vaccine roll-out, as a young person, I am somewhat disheartened that the government feels that it is our generation who will not make a difference by getting the vaccine. Once again, we are scapegoated and generalised as rule-breakers and super-spreaders. 

Our generation is in vaccine limbo. There is no promise of a vaccine until the end of July and the vaccine roll-out is currently bottle-necked by our aunts and grandparents needing their second doses. Therefore, feelings of anxiety about being unvaccinated in an increasingly open Britain are spreading amongst the youth. The thought of hundreds of unvaccinated students crowded in compact Durham nightclubs on 21st June, when they could open again, is equally worrying and wrong.

We are scapegoated and generalised as rule-breakers and super-spreaders

Being last in the vaccine pecking order is frustrating. When the vaccine-roll-out order was announced, knowing that my 93-year-old grandma who does not go out of the house would receive a vaccine before key workers was confusing. Rolling out of the vaccine programme on an ICU concept of “quality-adjusted life years” was an alternative decision by the government. It may have got the economy and services back to normal quicker, but it would not have been a humane decision. Given the tightly controlled supply of Covid-19 vaccinations, the government made the right decision in prioritizing the old. It has meant the delay of normal life. But we, as students, can tolerate more awkward zoom seminars, knowing our grandparents are safer. 

The vaccine-roll-out has been the saving grace of the Conservative party. Scandals over Greensill lobbying and government leaks have been smoothly washed away due to continued vaccine success. Yet it is too early to start celebrating victory against Covid-19. The defaming of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine puts pressure on supplies. The Indian variant and a possible third wave also threaten to turn the tables on the so-far successful roll-out. The government must continue to efficiently adapt the vaccine programme when necessary. We cannot be truly satisfied until the last vaccine has been given. 

A survey from Imperial College London revealed that 83% of 18-29 year olds would get a vaccine

Government worries about vaccine hesitancy amongst young people are not unfounded. Israel, the current leaders in the global vaccine race, saw a drop of people attending vaccine appointments when they extended the vaccine roll-out to those under 35. A survey from Imperial College London revealed that 83% of 18-29-year-olds would get a vaccine, an encouraging figure. Yet when compared to the whopping 99% of over 80s who wanted to get a jab, vaccine-hesitancy in younger people becomes apparent. 

Is this because younger generations are vaccine-sceptics? Despite being flooded by anti-vaccination propaganda on social media and bombarded by news channels telling us how the Astra-Zeneca vaccine is “extremely” dangerous. For the majority, this is not the case. We are simply more complacent about covid and blasé about booking an appointment due to the unsubstantiated fact that Covid poses less risk to us. But vaccines are more about protecting others than just ourselves. 

I have misgivings about the government’s vaccine roll-out. But I will be taking the vaccine when it is offered.  Young people are not as immune as we think, and without us taking the vaccine, the dream of herd immunity will never be reached. Echoing Dinah Washington, the day we finally receive our vaccine, we will have made a difference. 

Image: susanjanegolding via Flickr

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