• Sunday, December 04, 2022

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UK Universities open own vaccination centres to make campuses safer

Students wait to receive a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre at the Hunter Street Health Centre in London on June 5, 2021. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

TO BOOST uptake among students, UK Universities are setting up their own vaccination centres as they want to make campuses as safe as possible for the autumn term, The Guardian reported.

As millions of students arriving in September, some universities are already warning freshers to get fully vaccinated, the report added.

The University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol, Kingston University in south London and the University of Stirling in Scotland have already opened campus vaccination centres.

According to the report, other universities, including Cardiff, Manchester, Birmingham and Portsmouth are in discussions about setting up vaccination services.

These centres will be run and staffed by the NHS, but universities are offering to train up students or university staff to volunteer in them.

Universities UK, the vice-chancellors’ umbrella group, said by the autumn term many universities would have vaccine facilities on campus, including pop-up clinics and NHS vaccine buses.

Ministers considered making it compulsory for students in England to be fully vaccinated to attend lectures or live in halls of residence, but Boris Johnson later ruled that out.

Cardiff is hoping to be able to direct unvaccinated students and those who have only had a single dose to a university centre as part of enrolment when students arrive in September, but nothing has been confirmed, The Guardian report said.

Adults over the age of 18 have been eligible for vaccination against Covid-19 in England since 18 June, but Public Health England said at the end of July that uptake in younger groups was slowing.

According to the latest weekly update, vaccine uptake for young people aged 18 to under 25 was at 62 per cent, up one percentage point on the previous week.

Prof Susan Michie, the director of the centre for behaviour change at University College London and a member of the government’s Covid behavioural science team, said universities needed to stress to new students that vaccination was not just about protecting themselves.

She said that as well as making it easy for students to access vaccination, universities must offer different ways for students to talk to someone about any worries they have about it.

Prof Steve West, the vice-chancellor of UWE and president of Universities UK, told the newspaper: “At the age of 18 most of your life isn’t planned. It’s so much easier if you can just turn up and have the vaccination on campus.”

According to the news report, the student union of University of Reading ran a big social media campaign in July reminding new students that they needed to hurry and have their first jab so they did not miss out on the fun in freshers’ week.

Students at the University of Sussex who can prove they have been immunised are being entered into a prize draw to win £5,000. Other universities are considering similar incentives, The Guardian report added.

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