The Government is considering requiring vaccine passports for entry to an increasing number of venues, including Premier League football stadiums and university student accommodation, it has been reported.
According to a report by The Times, the Prime Minister is said to have been “raging” about the levels of vaccine uptake among young people and is pushing the idea that students will have to be fully vaccinated in order to stay in halls of residence or attend lectures.
Ministers have suggested such plans have not been ruled out, though there would be some medical exemptions if the plans took place.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme on Monday morning, Education Minister Vicky Ford said that ministers are to “look at every practicality to make sure that we can get students back safely and make sure that we can continue to prioritise education”.
The suggested plans have though been criticised by many, including by some Conservative MPs. There are fears that the plans could lead to some people missing out on education and act as a further restriction on people’s freedoms.
A number of students have taken to social media to complain about the plans, after feeling badly treated and often forgotten during the pandemic. Higher-education students across the country have regularly had to isolate due to COVID outbreaks, have faced ever-changing government guidance and have had to pay full fees for often limited online teaching.
Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer has suggested that coronavirus tests may be more useful than double vaccinations and has said he doesn’t want to see vaccine passports becoming used on a daily basis as part of people’s lives.
Huge numbers of young people have already received their first vaccine dose, with vaccine clinics on university sites and other major venues being held over recent months to help with this. There are though around 40% of 18-25-year-olds in England that have still not been jabbed, according to recent data from Public Health England.
A number of factors could be said to have played a part in the relatively low vaccine uptake among young people in England at this stage, including anti-vaccination attitudes and young people having less access to transport and GP facilities. Some critics have also suggested that the Government’s attitudes towards students at points during the pandemic could have reduced the chances that some students will come forward for vaccination.
In the UK as a whole, 88% of the adult population have now had a first vaccine dose, while 70.3% have had two doses.