We asked young people if free Deliveroo is going to solve the low-vaccine uptake

Is free Deliveroo the key to getting the remaining third of young people vaccinated?

Young people can now get Deliveroo discounts  for getting their Covid-19 vaccine, the UK government has announced. 

Deliveroo is among a number of businesses, including Uber, Bolt, and Pizza Pilgrims offering discounted rides and meals to young people getting vaccinated this August. 

After plans to make vaccines a condition of returning to university campuses were dropped, it’s the latest attempt to address concerns about low take-up, with data suggesting around 1 in 3 young people have not had a single dose of the vaccine, figures which Boris Johnson is allegedly “raging” about. 

The Tab asked young people their thoughts on the new scheme and whether or not they thought it would encourage vaccine uptake.

‘Surely people hearing about the offer will delay their vaccines’

Molly, a second-year student at Imperial College London, said she thought the policy could encourage more people to get the vaccine: “I think I like the idea, I recently got a 15% discount in a shop because I was vaccinated and it was a good feeling, so maybe it will encourage others”.

However, as she, like many of the other people The Tab spoke to, has already had her first dose, she said she would be frustrated if the scheme turned out to only be valid for currently un-vaccinated people. She told The Tab: “I don’t think it would be fair if we are disadvantaged because we got the vaccination as soon as we could”.

Since people may want to take advantage of the scheme she pointed out that “surely people hearing about the offer will delay their vaccines until the scheme is in place which is just not a good idea”.

‘All the anxi-vaxxers are gonna be on a mad one’

Whilst Molly believed people might delay the Covid-19 vaccine to benefit from incentives, Daisy, a first year psychology student from Essex questioned how successful the scheme was likely to be. She said “I feel like it might not be that effective because most people who agree with the policy have already had the jab and all the anti-vaxxers are gonna be on a mad one saying they’re being bribed to take it”. 

‘If they’re convinced it’s some 5G government control microchip a freebie won’t sway them’

Sophie, 17, had her first dose last week and agreed with Daisy. She told The Tab “when I heard about the policy I thought it was a bit patronising – I think if young people want the vaccine they will get it without need of a bribe and if they’re massively opposed to it then a promise of freebies won’t change their mind”. 

She said the scheme “wouldn’t have swayed my decision because I was really set on getting the vaccine anyway” but hoped it would encourage others. “If someone is on the fence about the vaccine or a bit apathetic about it then maybe an incentive like those suggested would sway them”, she said.

However, she also didn’t see the scheme as the answer to vaccine hesitancy, saying “I don’t think the policy would persuade people that are completely opposed to the vaccine though because If they’re convinced it’s some 5g government control microchip etc then a freebie won’t really sway them”. 

‘It pales in comparison to other reasons for getting the vaccine’

Maverick, 21 from Manchester, was also sceptical about the scheme’s effectiveness. He said “I hope it does work, but equally I feel that 10% off McDonalds or whatever pales in comparison to other reasons for getting the vaccine. 

“To me, given the government’s outlining that the vaccinated will be prioritised in areas such as travel, hospitality and clubbing these seem more convincing reasons to get vaccinated”. 

‘The scheme shows mixed messaging and hypocrisy’

Jed, 20 and studying History and Politics at Cambridge, was also frustrated that the scheme seems to only be valid for people who have not yet been vaccinated. He told The Tab “on a surface level it’s a bit annoying because its like I got it off my own accord,  but if I had waited I’d have got an incentive from the govt to do it”. 

He also pointed out the scheme was inconsistent with the recent government push towards healthier lifestyles. He described the policy as representing “mixed messaging and hypocrisy” since “ the government has been massively pushing this line that obesity and poor diet means you are more likely to experience serious side-effects from Covid and they are making an app to monitor people’s fitness. Yet, now they are promoting unhealthy eating with these incentives. It’s a bit weird”. 

He also pointed out the hyper-focus on young people feels like a bit of a red herring, claiming “I don’t know anyone my age who hasn’t got the first dose”.

‘The problem of youth uptake is caused by much more deep-rooted problems’

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Matt,23,  also found the scheme a bit “lacklustre”, saying it feels like the government are saying “the young people like their Uber and their takeaway don’t they, go on, discounts on pizza will convince them”. 

He was also doubtful about the effectiveness of the scheme: “There’s a case for saying that a decent chunk of this group of unvaccinated young people are just umming and ahhing, not getting around to it, and this’ll maybe be another thing that’ll push them over the edge; sure, why not – but isn’t stuff like not being able to travel abroad to most places and event attendance restrictions going to do that anyway?

“But what we’re talking about is such a small number of people; the uptake rate in young people really isn’t that much lower as you would expect it to be given how much focus there is on them”.

‘It clearly makes the government look desperate’

This idea that young people are unlikely to be swayed by discounts is shared by young people we spoke to who haven’t had the vaccine. 

Harrison, hasn’t had the vaccine and felt the government scheme to incentivise young people is “wrong”. He told The Tab “I think giving vouchers to get the vaccine sounds so stupid and sounds like the government are desperate for us to have this drug”. He also said he wouldn’t be swayed by the government offering larger incentives. 

 ‘I hate the whole propaganda’

Eleanor, who has also chosen not to be vaccinated, agreed: “I think giving incentives now is essentially bribing the young people who have chosen or simply can’t get the vaccine, and makes them feel even more pressured to get it. I believe in choice, and I think that the incentives will delight the young people that are waiting to be eligible for a vaccine, but they make me not want to get it even more because I hate the whole propaganda”. 

She also said whilst she is “not an anti vaxx”,  no larger incentive would sway her decision currently. However she did say she would “definitely get the vaccine when I know there is more evidence”. 

‘A jab is a personal choice not a marketing scheme’ 

It’s not just people who haven’t been vaccinated who are disillusioned with the scheme. Naida has had her first vaccine and has her second one booked but was still “vexed” by the campaign. She told The Tab that from a marketing perspective she thinks “it’s really irresponsible to use a national pandemic to promote services. It’s not a campaign, it’s a way to make money that profits off a really horrible situation. It’s very insensitive and partly propaganda”. 

She told The Tab the scheme “makes people feel more guilty/anxious by not conforming” and whilst she is part-jabbed she still  feels “seeing a company persuade me into getting a jab is counterintuitive”. Whilst she said she would get the jab regardless, she said “I have some friends who find this “YOU MUST GET A VACCINE OR ELSE” approach off-putting, as it backs them into a corner. They want to come to the conclusion themselves due to potential health risks, such as for pregnancy”. 

Rather, she felt a more effective approach would be “a campaign or more awareness about the vaccine in young people would help”, such as focussing on people’s experiences and how the vaccine was developed to help “break the ice and all the uncertainty, especially alleged health risks”.

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