The queues at Twickenham proved young people don’t need to be shamed into the vaccine

15,000 people gave up their sunny bank holiday at the first chance to get the jab

Over the past few months, it’s been impossible to escape the narrative that young people would need to be shamed into getting the vaccine.

Politicians have been busy spreading the idea that we’d all be too hesitant and reluctant to get the jab, that we need to be told to “do our bit”. We’d kill our grandparents by partying too much and then dishonour their memories by turning down the vaccine.

And then, on a bank holiday Monday with the nicest weather of the year, 15,000 people queued at Twickenham stadium to get vaccinated.

At 3pm, with the whole country enjoying park tinnies and vaguely worrying about sunburn, NHS officials announced that vaccines would be available, first-come-first-served, to anybody over-18 who turned up at the stadium. Thousands showed up – with people scrambling to get taxis and risk sunstroke.

By 6:45, people were getting turned away as the queue was already 15,000 strong – and looking like the scenes from the halcyon days of X-Factor auditions. People in the queue were avidly tweeting how overwhelmingly young the crowd was.

It proved, pretty well, that the problem wasn’t hesitancy. There’s a ridiculous amount of pent-up demand for the vaccine among young people.

Matt Hancock – most recently in the news for literally running away from reporters, and then hours later being the subject of claims he should have been sacked 15 or 20 times – has been on the offensive with young people.

In March, he said young people needed to “do their bit” and get the vaccine. Not only is the concept of the words “do”, “bit”, and “Matt Hancock” together in a sentence repulsive, the message was patronising.

It even extended to dating apps – with reports that the government plans to make vaccines seem “sexy” by promoting jabs on Tinder.

The government will perhaps see yesterday as a vindication of all this – the condescension worked! Negging a whole generation is an effective way to do things, after all.

But the simple answer is that we were never reluctant. Polling shows that 18-24s are ahead of the curve on a host of Covid measures. We’re the most likely age group to be taking regular Covid tests, and less likely than any other age group to feel safe when out and about. It’s obvious we want the peace of mind a vaccine gives, and are perfectly willing to take some mildly unpleasant precautions.

When The Tab polled 25,000 students and young people on Instagram, 94 per cent said they want the vaccine.

We’ve been trying to get it at the earliest possible opportunity. Friends have been pestering vaccination centres for unused doses, only to be turned away as the only thing in stock was AstraZeneca.

For as long as we’ve been at the back of the queue, watching with relief as our parents and grandparents get the jab, the question has been a hypothetical. The idea of young people getting vaccinated was so far off we may as well have been discussing which jobs we’d like to have on Elon Musk’s Mars colonies.

Then suddenly it wasn’t. It turned out the only thing you need to do to convince young people to get vaccinated was to offer it to us.

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Featured image: SWNS