Discounts from Uber and Deliveroo will lure young people in UK to get Covid jab

The government is using cheap taxi rides and discounts at the largest takeaway businesses to increase Covid vaccination rates in an desperate attempt to boost Covid vaccinations among the young. This comes amid increasing legal and political pressure on Boris Johnson regarding vaccine passports.Cabinet members were concerned about plans to enforce vaccine passports only in certain settings. The government has shifted its focus to incentives to increase vaccination rates in the summer, in order to prevent another Covid wave when offices, schools, and universities reopen.Bolt and Uber, both car-hailing services, as well delivery service Deliveroo are all part of plans to offer discounts to consumers. According to the latest take-up statistics, 60% of 18-to-25-year-olds have had at least one jab. However, ministers worry that younger age groups are not as interested in receiving the same treatment.This is because Johnson, in the midst of Tory unrest, has withdrawn from making full vaccination a condition that students can live and learn on university campuses.The Observer learned that last week, the government received a detailed briefing from university attorneys. They highlighted a series of legal hurdles to the plan and left them open to a slew. Many of these cases could also apply to other sectors, should passports be considered elsewhere.Johnson already has plans to require vaccination passports in certain indoor venues, such as nightclubs. Companies warn that they may face legal action if they do not implement jabs and no job policies.After the US president Joe Biden demanded $100 payments to all newly vaccinated Americans, ministers have rejected the idea of paying young people to get a vaccine. Ministers are working with takeaway and cab-hailing companies to offer incentives. However, they will not request or hold any personal data.Uber will offer discounts on Uber Eats and rides on Uber Rides to young adults who have had their jab. Bolt will provide free ride credit for vaccination centres. Others incentives that are being considered include discount codes or vouchers for those who visit pop-up vaccination sites. Sajid Javid (the health secretary) called for the youth to take advantage of the discounts as soon as they are available.Ministers are desperate to find incentives amid growing concerns about the forced vaccination of young people. The government had privately warned universities that they were considering using vaccine certificates. A detailed memo was sent to the cabinet office, warning institutions that they could breach consumer law by changing the terms of the contract that was given to students who had been offered a place in September. Lawyers warned that universities could not force students to get vaccinated, a move the government might struggle to win.Lawyers stated that confirming a student's vaccination status also opens universities up to questionable data use and creates major problems in protecting such sensitive information. Lawyers also pointed out that there could be age discrimination complaints if different rules were applied to staff and students, and that certain vulnerable groups should be treated differently. International students who have received vaccines from outside the UK were also questioned.Sir David Bell, Vice-chancellor of University of Sunderland, stated that students are protected by voluntary vaccination programs and it would be unfair to treat them differently than any other group of people. He said: We urge you to clarify the situation as soon as possible so that we can fully prepare for the next term.Boris Johnson visits The Industry Centre, University of Sunderland. The vice-chancellor of the university has requested clarification on the steps that the institution must take. Photograph by WPA Pool/Getty ImagesVice-chancellor at Buckinghamshire New University Professor Nick Braisby said that plans are already in place for face-to-face instruction should guidance permit.He urged the government to treat university students as any other citizen. We made offers in good faith to applicants, and they are legally binding. It is not clear what legal support the government would receive if it were to mandate vaccination.It is also important to note that students must be fully vaccinated before term begins, due to the delay in the second and first doses.Jo Grady, the general secretary of University and College Union, stated that another year's tuition shouldn't descend into yet another term of chaos and uncertainty. We don't want to see another drop in student mental wellbeing, or an increase in stress among staff due to increased workload. It is time for the government to take action.President of the National Union of Students Larissa Kennedy said that suggestions that ministers wait until the beginning of term to decide their policies was absurd and warned that the government has not learned much from last year's chaos. She stated: Accommodation contracts were signed months ago and students will be furious that they're being asked to pay for rooms they can't use. Students deserve better.According to the government, it encouraged students to be vaccinated. It also urged universities to make the offer of the vaccine available to them. However, it said that it does not plan to create vaccine passports for education.