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Young people urged to get COVID-19 vaccine

today27/06/2021 11

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The delay to the grand reopening on 21st June has come as a disappointment to many people in our city, including businesses and their customers. The reasons for this delay were outlined by the government last Monday, with a major element being their desire to offer all adults at least their first dose of the vaccines before restrictions are fully relaxed. Consequently, this responsibility mostly falls on young people, as vaccines have previously been administered to the oldest in society working down. Therefore, it is up to the younger generations to help propel us towards a lockdown end date.

I spoke to several young people in Leeds to explore their attitudes towards the vaccine and their role in paving the way towards the easing of restrictions.

Finley Howell, 22

“Personally, I will be getting the vaccine and hope other individuals will as well. The thought of being forced into another lockdown due to rising cases really frightens me as, like many others, I found the first lockdown incredibly difficult. Consequently, if I can play a role in bringing down the number of positive cases, I will absolutely do my bit. I’m also desperate to go on holiday, something I imagine is pretty universal after a year and a half being cooped up, so I will do whatever I can to help us return to normality.

“However, although the prospect of social events re-opening is very exciting, it’s also making me feel a bit anxious. I’m a very bubbly person, and not being able to socialise as normal has been incredibly hard however, if social events were re-opened in accordance with government guidelines, it’d be a bit of a shock to the system after spending so long in isolation. Nevertheless, I think getting the vaccine is a really positive thing for young people to do; it allows us to protect ourselves, wider society and the country’s economy, as well as paving the way back to a life of friendships and social events.”

Louis Hannan, 26

“If I’m honest, I was initially motivated to get the vaccine after whispers of a ‘vaccine passport’ scheme, which would allow those who were fully vaccinated to attend events and go on holidays. That’s as good an incentive as I needed when I’ve spent a year and a half of my mid-twenties in lockdown. That’s time I’m never going to get back and lost experiences I can never recover, so anything I could do to get myself back out in the world I did. I even booked tickets for festivals and was counting down the days to Leeds Fest before the announcement that restrictions were being extended. I’ve had to be refunded on several of my tickets and looks like I’ll be waiting another year to properly get back on the festival scene.

“It’s such a shame for young people who are watching a really valuable time in their lives slip away. I’ve now had two birthdays in lockdown, and I can feel myself losing all the years people usually look back on fondly with a chuckle and a hand to their faces. That’s why it’s so important to get the vaccine – the emphasis is now on younger generations to get their first jab, so restrictions actually do lift on 19th July. So, we finally have a bit of power and control in this situation, we’re no longer totally helpless to let the years slip away. Instead we can actually do something, and that in itself should offer young people some comfort and a sense purpose.”

Connie Steen, 26

“I managed to get the vaccine quite early on, I have asthma, so I was higher on the priority list. I know there’s been a lot of trepidation about the side effects, but I was so thankful to have it – I just wanted my life to go back to somewhat normal, whatever normal is now. So, for me, it’s been a very positive experience, I didn’t really have any negative side effects and I feel a lot safer now that I have had it.

“Some of the main reasons I went were: so I could get back into life without the fear of catching it and becoming very unwell; I wanted to be able to go on holiday, and I know in some countries you need to be fully vaccinated and I want to go to Canada so it will be easier for me to get there if I am; but mainly I was happy to get the vaccine because I wanted my third year uni experience to go as smoothly as possible. I am on a partially practical course so not being able to attend the campus in person has had a really severe impact on my learning and skill development. So being able to get back to teaching by September is essential for me – I just want to be able to have face-to-face teaching and not worry about getting sick! Overall, I would say the whole process was a positive experience, and it will allow me to get back to life as soon as possible, so I’m very glad I had the vaccine, and I would definitely urge other young people to do so as well.”

Written by: Melissa Watson

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