Boris Johnson urges young people to finish their job of protecting vulnerable ‘get jabbed’

Question Time audience member hits out at compulsory vaccines

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Booking for over 18s in England opened yesterday in the final push to fully reopening the nation, with keen teens getting theirs by the afternoon. Tens of thousands more are expected to swamp huge drop-in centres today, including at London’s Olympic Park and the University of Manchester. And the Prime Minister said England was on track to lift the remaining curbs on July 19.

He said yesterday: “I’m very confident that we’ll be able to go through with Step Four of the roadmap on the timetable that I’ve set out with treating July 19 as a terminus date. That’s certainly what the data continues to indicate.”

Younger and largely unvaccinated people are mainly behind the 79 percent surge in cases of Covid’s Delta variant, first identified in India.

Mr Johnson said he did not underestimate the impact of the pandemic on young people and told them they had saved lives by abiding by the rules.

But he said he must ask “one more thing”of them…to take up the jab when they are offered it.

In a video posted online, he said: “This past year-and-a-half I have been absolutely in awe of the utter selflessness that our young people have shown in the fight against coronavirus. Jobs have been lost, education disrupted, plans put on hold.

“You’ve had the challenge of making social distancing and self-isolation work in shared flats and houses, of meeting new people and trying to form new friendships without bursting any bubbles. Students have been forced to adapt to new ways of learning while missing out on many of the rights of passage that many of us took for granted.

“So much of what makes it very heaven to be young – the nights out, the parties, the holidays, the festivals – that’s all been set aside.

“And you have done it all, you’ve put up with it all, not out of self interest, because most young people are among the least at risk from the virus, but because you wanted to do the right thing by the rest of the country.”

He continued: “But I can say for sure, there are people alive today in your town, in your neighbourhood, maybe even in your family, who are only with us because you chose to do the right thing. We are not out of the woods yet, but after a long and difficult journey the end is finally in sight.”

Vaccine deployment chiefs across the country are offering drop-in shots today in response to the enthusiasm for online bookings among youngsters.

Other walk-ins are opening at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre and Twickenham Stadium.

It comes after Public Health England revealed Delta variant hospital cases had almost doubled in a week, although most of those needing treatment had not had a vaccine.

The Government is racing to get all adults jabbed before the mutation spreads further.

But it also wants children, who are not being vaccinated, and their families to continue testing to keep schools free of outbreaks.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson yesterday urged secondary pupils and parents to carry on testing twice a week at home to help “break chains of transmission”.

His plea comes after academics said trials of daily Covid checks in schools must be halted.

In an open letter to England’s secondary school and college parents, Mr Williamson said: “With the increase in cases with variants of concern, it is important to continue regular testing in order to detect cases of coronavirus, stay ahead of the virus and keep Covid out of the classroom. This means that regular asymptomatic testing for all will continue and we need you and your children to carry on testing at home twice a week.”

Mr Williamson added: “Testing has been playing a vital role. It is helping to break chains of transmission by identifying asymptomatic positive cases quickly. This means those who test positive can self-isolate, keeping other pupils and students in face-to-face education. Reporting all test results, positive or negative, helps the health experts have a clearer picture of potential outbreaks.”

Warning of ethical and scientific concerns, the academics had said it was “deeply concerning” daily testing was “being presented as a solution for educational disruption”.

In a trial involving around 200 schools and colleges across England, one group is following the national guidance of quarantining contacts of positive cases.

The other allows daily testing for a week instead. It uses daily rapid lateral flow tests with pupils also offered a PCR test – where swabs are sent to a lab – on day two and seven.

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