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University students could require full vaccination to attend lectures and live in halls

Covid-19 restrictions hit hard again for the university youth as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces students could require full vaccination in order to attend lectures and reside in their university halls. Reports indicate the Prime Minister is actively “pushing” the proposition to “encourage” an elevated vaccine intake among young people. 

Another senior government spokesman indicated the government’s plans to ensure full vaccination intake by mandating the use of vaccination passports for entry into lecture theatres and university events. The Prime Minister added that the plan would be considerate of medical exemptions. A report from The Times newspaper claimed this reinforcement is designed to “apply pressure” on young people to come forward for a jab, following a low uptake, which had the Prime Minister “raging”.

There already appears some ambiguity and conflict surrounding this debate, however, with Education Minister Vicky Ford actively advocating that university students should not need full vaccination to enjoy their university experience, stating: “we must make sure we continue to prioritise education”. 

Ford developed that, despite this, obtaining two jabs would “minimise disruption” for students as it would mean they would not be permitted to isolate after being associated with someone who has tested positive for the virus. She added in an interview with Times Radio: “we don’t want to go back to a situation where large parts of education were closed to many young people and children” and a key part of achieving this is having a “double-vaccinated population”.

The ideas shared by both Ford and the Prime Minister, however, are not shared everywhere. Conservative MP Robert Halfon, Chairman of the Education Select Committee, described the idea as “wrong headed”. He argues vaccine passports only perpetuate social hierarchies – namely, drawing distinctions between those who will be given a higher education, and those who will not. 

Speaking in the House of Commons last week, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said vaccine passports would potentially be mandatory for sporting and business events as well as music events and night clubs. 

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Adelaide Cannell

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December 2021
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