Fear is the key to persuade younger generations to have a COVID jab, if vaccination hesitation proves a problem in Bedfordshire, it has been claimed.
Take-up of the vaccine among the older population has been broadly considered a success in the county so far, Central Bedfordshire Council’s social care, health and housing overview and scrutiny committee heard.
But there are concerns, once the priority groups are vaccinated, those further down the chain might become complacent because everyone most at risk of catching COVID will have had the vaccine.
“The first variety was pneumonia,” according to Conservative Ampthill councillor Paul Duckett.
“But it’s now mutated into something which attacks various organs,” he warned. “It doesn’t just target the chest.
“And, if you’re young, it still attacks you. If we can get that message across to younger people, you’re not bulletproof.
“This could get you and it will do you a lot of harm. And frighten people. It’s frightening because it’s not a good thing to have.”
Conservative Linslade councillor Gordon Perham called for “a new catchphrase” to get the vaccine message across.
“I think what you’re going to find is anyone under 50 is going to see the older people aren’t dying,” he explained.
“It’s going to lose some of its intensity. But the government needs a slightly different approach, as it still wants to stop this spreading.”
BLMK Clinical Commissioning Groups director of performance and governance Geraint Davies said: “The key message is we need everyone to take vaccination. We’re all in this together.
“The more people that are vaccinated, the better it is for society, the better it is for everyone.”
Conservative Heath and Reach councillor Mark Versallion asked: “Is there an appetite to ramp up the narrative to make it more compelling?“
Mr Davies replied: “As we roll out the vaccine to the younger cohorts of the population we may have more complacency, so there’s a challenge there.
“We’ve got to think about what motivates people to do things and if there’s something to gain from taking the vaccine they might have it.
“If you have to carry a passport to do something with the vaccine that could drive some behaviours.
“People might think it’s in my benefit to have the vaccine. I would like our government to think about that.
“If any of you are meeting national politicians in your roles please make that point.
“The rollout in Central Bedfordshire is going very well,” added Mr Davies. “For our 80 and overs we’re at 95 per cent.
“For our 75- to 79-year-olds 96 per cent, for our 70- to 74-year-olds 95 per cent, for our 65- to 69-year-olds 90 per cent, and for 60- to 64-year-olds, which started later, 65 per cent so far.
“We’ve a plan to deliver against the government’s request that all adults have a vaccination by the end of July, and a second by the end of October.”
Councillor Versallion, who chairs the committee, wondered if there are any plans for children to be vaccinated.
CBC’s director of public health Celia Shohet said: “The vaccine isn’t registered for children at the moment.
“The underlying principles of the programme are about the risk of ill health and hospital admission.
“Thankfully we know in the vast majority of cases it’s very low risk for children.”