In a turn of events that will surprise precisely no one, a government communications campaign has been met with anger, incredulity and mockery.
As reported in the Times, health secretary Matt Hancock has urged Brits to “do their bit” by getting vaccinated, saying young people should get the jab to visit their grandparents, go on holiday and avoid long Covid. Scientific advisers have also been taking part in several interviews, talking up the benefits of young people having the vaccine.
The campaign comes after the UK drugs regulator recommended that those under the age of 30 be offered an alternative vaccine to the Oxford/ AstraZeneca vaccine due to emerging evidence linking it to extremely rare blood clots.
Out of the 20 million people who have received one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, 79 people developed blood clots. This amounts to a risk of one in 250,000, or 0.0004%.
Both the regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, (MHRA) and the EU’s regulator, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), have said the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks.
Of course, noone (well, mostly noone – apart from those anti-vaxxers) is arguing about the benefits of the vaccine or indeed the collective effort needed to fight Covid. But people on social media have been quick to point out that most young people have a) not yet been offered the vaccine and b) have already been working pretty hard to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
One user said:
While another said:
Film critic Guy Lodge moved his criticism from flicks to the government:
And journalist Grace Blakeley dispelled any notion that young people are reluctant to get jabbed.
In another cack-handed comment, Hancock also told the BBC people should not be concerned about the vaccine as it was no less dangerous than a flight. He said:
“The safety system that we have around this vaccine is so sensitive that it can pick up events that are four in a million – I’m told this is about the equivalent risk of taking a long-haul flight.”
Who wants to tell him foreign holidays won’t be that easy this year?
Looks like a swing and a miss from Matt today.