Government considering incentives to boost vaccine uptake

Uber, Bolt and Deliveroo are among the brands offering incentives as part of a scheme already under way in England.

Government considering incentives to boost vaccine uptake iStock
Younger adults may be offered incentives to take up offer of Covid vaccine.

Incentives could be offered to young Scots in a bid to encourage them to get the coronavirus vaccine.

The Scottish Government is looking at “appropriate schemes” to achieve its aim of increasing the country’s vaccination rate.

It comes as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is set to announce on Tuesday whether Scotland is in a position to move beyond level zero, effectively removing most remaining coronavirus restrictions.

But Public Health Scotland data shows about 30% of 18 to 29-year-olds and 20% of 30 to 39-year-olds in Scotland have not had their first dose of coronavirus vaccine yet – despite every adult being offered a first appointment.

So far, 4,012,496 people have received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination and 3,214,801 have received their second dose.

A spokesperson for The Scottish Government said: “The vaccination programme has been one of the fastest in the world with around 90% of the adult population (18+) having received their first dose – far beyond our planning assumption of 80% – and so around 72% have received their second dose.

“We are always keen to explore ways to increase the vaccination rate and are looking carefully at appropriate incentives schemes to achieve this aim.

“In addition, health boards are striving to maximise vaccine uptake by supporting outreach in food banks, religious centres and workplaces, and we are working with large employers to encourage uptake among their staff.

“There is a wide range of places to get vaccinated including at drop-in mobile centres which have visited a range of sites such as football grounds, parks, workplaces and shopping centres.”

The UK Government has already announced that food delivery and taxi-hailing companies are to offer discounted rides and meals for customers who get a Covid-19 jab to help boost vaccine uptake.

Uber, Bolt and Deliveroo are among the brands who will be offering incentives to encourage younger people to get vaccinated.

The Department of Health and Social Care said taxi app firm Uber will be sending reminders to all users in August encouraging them to get jabbed.

The company will offer discounted Uber rides and meals on its Uber Eats platform for young adults who receive a vaccine.

Meanwhile, a leading psychologist at the University of St Andrews said an implication that “infections don’t matter” could have put young people off getting a Covid-19 jab.

Stephen Reicher said more must be done to make younger adults aware that vaccination is a matter of personal and social responsibility.

Professor Reicher sits on the advisory group Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (Spi-B), which advises the Government.

He called for clear and consistent messaging to signal that the pandemic is not over. His comments came after the raft of new inducements for younger adults to take up the offer of a vaccine were introduced in England.

Professor Reicher told Times Radio: “In many ways the implication has been there that infections don’t matter.

“So, if the health secretary (Sajid Javid) can say ‘we’re going to have 100,000 cases a day, that doesn’t matter, we’re still going ahead with our policy’, and when you see reopening everywhere, it does begin to send the message that infections don’t matter.

“And in fact there’s some evidence that the young people are beginning to say ‘well, why should I get vaccinated if it doesn’t really matter, if infection doesn’t matter, why should I do things to avoid infection?’.

“I think the messaging is really critical from governments as well – it needs to be consistent, it needs to be clear.

“And it needs to be about not only the fact that the pandemic is still there and it’s necessary to do something, but this is a matter not only of personal responsibility, but a social responsibility – of doing things for others, doing things for the community so the community as a whole can reopen safely.”