CORONAVIRUS vaccine uptake among young people in Wales is the highest in the UK due to encouragement instead of an approach that “threatens” or offers prizes, first minister Mark Drakeford has said.

Young people in England have been told they will not get into nightclubs from next month unless they are double jabbed, while there are also discounted taxi journeys and meals being used as incentives for people to get vaccinated.

But Mr Drakeford dismissed this kind of approach, saying young people in Wales are simply being told they have “a contribution” to make.

The latest statistics show the uptake for first doses in Wales among 18 to 29-year-olds is 75 per cent, while it is 72.8 per cent in Scotland, 69.3 per cent in England, and 63.9 per cent in Northern Ireland.

Mr Drakeford told the Today programme: “Our appeal to young people is not one that either threatens them by saying you won’t be able to do things or tries to induce them by offering them prizes, but just says to them, ‘you have a contribution to make, you can keep yourself but also other people who matter to you safe’.

“That appeal, I think, means that we’ve succeeded in getting our vaccination numbers in that cohort up higher than in other parts of the United Kingdom.”

He told Sky News the approach in Wales is one of “appealing to people, not on the basis of trying to frighten them into doing it or induce them into doing it”.

Nightclubs are set to reopen and all restrictions on meeting others are to be removed in Wales, in the biggest easing of coronavirus measures since the pandemic began.

In a bid to drive up the number of young people getting the vaccine in England, its benefits will be broadcast to partygoers in nightclubs, with veteran venues including Ministry of Sound and Heaven helping to push messaging, while the latter will also host a vaccine event on Sunday.


Meanwhile, a scientist advising the Government has said it is “a shame” the issue of mask-wearing has “become almost a little bit politicised”.

Despite Wales’s easing of restrictions, face masks will continue to be required in most indoor public places, including on public transport, in shops and in healthcare settings.

Mr Drakeford described mask-wearing as a “simple precaution” and warned on BBC Radio Wales that in some other parts of the world where the measure was lifted, “it’s having to be reintroduced again, as it was last week in the United States of America”.

Professor Clifford Stott, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (Spi-B), told LBC: “Wearing a mask is also communicating to others about a sense of responsibility, and I think that’s a key issue in mask-wearing now, unfortunately.

“I think, unfortunately, it’s become almost a little bit politicised whether one wears one or not, which is I think a shame.”

When it comes to vaccinating younger people, an expert has said he supports the rollout being extended “down throughout secondary school” in a bid to protect them from the possible effects of long Covid.

Danny Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College London, told Times Radio: “We’ve been very blase about infection in children, but they can get very ill with acute Covid. They also have quite serious or similar odds of getting long Covid.

“Think how devastating that is for children who might be going into their GCSEs or A-levels to simply zone out and not be able to function. It’s a horrible thing to do to children and we do need to take it seriously and, if nothing else, that would be a reason to be rolling out the vaccines, as we are now.”

A study published earlier this week, led by researchers at King’s College London, found children who become ill with coronavirus are unlikely to have long-term effects, with less than two per cent having symptoms lasting more than eight weeks.

On extending the rollout beyond 16 and 17-year-olds, Prof Altmann accepted there are “complicated ethics discussions” about using vaccines when other countries have not yet had their first or second doses.

Elsewhere, it has been announced that live events across the UK are set to be covered by a Government-backed £750 million insurance scheme in a bid to stop a second summer of mass cancellations due to the pandemic.

Industry figures have been calling for such a scheme to help them recover from the pandemic and be able to plan events without the risk of a Covid-19 outbreak leaving them out of pocket.