There is huge support for giving Covid jabs to children over 12 – and millions want it extended to the over-fives.
Three in four voters say it’s a good way to stop another
But despite strong backing for the initiative, the idea of offering free pizzas as ‘bribes’ to encourage teens to get the jab has fallen flat.
Young people are keener on the idea –but they would rather have a free taxi ride to a vaccine centre.
These are among the key findings of the first poll since the Government announced it is to offer vaccines to 16 and 17-year-olds.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be encouraged by huge overall support for the initiative revealed in the JL Partners survey for the Daily Mail.
A total of 84 per cent say 16 and 17-year-olds should have the jab and among 16 to 24-year-olds, support is even higher at 87 per cent.
There is similar enthusiasm for jabbing secondary school pupils: seven out of ten say 12 to 15-year-olds should be vaccinated.This newspaper disclosed yesterday that the Government’s scientific advisers are considering offering jabs to this age group later this year.
There is even public support for vaccinating primary pupils: 44 per cent say five to 11-year-olds should get the jab; 38 per cent oppose this.
Unsurprisingly, giving the jab to under fives is opposed by 50 per cent.
Nearly two in three (65 per cent) of all adults oppose offering incentives to entice teenagers to get vaccinated.
Although 16 to 24-year-olds favour such ‘bribes’ by a margin of 50 per cent to 36, all age groups agree a free Uber ride to a vaccine centre is preferable to a free pizza. The best – and cheapest – way for the PM to get teenagers jabbed would be for footballer Marcus Rashford to urge them to do so.
Teen uptake falls as deadline nears
Vaccine uptake among young people is continuing to slump as the NHS faces the huge task of immunising 1.4million teenagers before schools return.
Paediatricians have criticised the ‘shambolic’ nature of the announcement that over-16s will be offered jabs, warning that families have been left in the dark about how to book them. The NHS website is not taking bookings for under-18s but teenagers are due to be invited for vaccines this month.
Meanwhile, nearly one in three of those aged 18 to 29 remain unvaccinated.
The NHS faces a huge task to get teenagers inoculated at the same time as the booster jab programme, which will see around 32million over-50s and vulnerable adults offered a third dose from next month.
Dr Camilla Kingdon, of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: ‘There has been no information to parents… that creates confusion.’
Asked who was most likely to persuade young people to be vaccinated, 70 per cent chose the campaigning England star.
A total of 69 per cent say the Government is right to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to have the jab without parental permission; 25 per cent say they should require parental approval.
While experts have dismissed claims that the jab could have adverse side-effects on youngsters’ health as ‘conspiracy theories’, a total of 50 per cent say they do have some concerns.
Asked their main worries, 21 per cent said they are concerned at reports it could cause blood clots; 17 per cent identified a ‘fear of fertility problems’; 16 per cent said the impact on children of coronavirus is so mild they do not need jabs and ten per cent are worried the jab is ‘riskier than long Covid’ for the young.
A total of 27 per cent say schools should be able to turn away pupils who have not been jabbed; 52 per cent say they should not be allowed to do this. A total of 32 per cent say there should be separate classes for pupils who had had the vaccine; 45 per cent say schools should not do this.
Asked who’s doing the better job as party leader, Mr Johnson is chosen by 41 per cent, a five point rise since last month and Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer scores 24, a fall of four points.
However, the poll offers fresh evidence of the growing standing of Rishi Sunak. The public say teenagers would be more likely to heed advice on vaccines from the Chancellor rather than his Downing Street neighbour.
In contrast to support for vaccinating teenagers, there is deep discontent with the Government’s handling of travel rules and the holiday chaos it has caused.
A total of 63 per cent say the Government has handled the issue badly. James Johnson of JL Partners said: ‘This is an overwhelming and resounding thumbs up to jabs for teens. Most people believe it is safe, and are happy for older teenagers to have the vaccine without getting the permission of their parents.
‘They want mum and dad to go further and actively encourage their children to get the vaccine.
‘Across all ages and social groups the jab is the great unifier of British public opinion.
‘This is despite frustration with the Government at mixed messages on jabs for teens, as well as on handling of travel rules.’
JL Partners interviewed 1,007 people in Britain aged over 16 yesterday.
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