The England manager Gareth Southgate has joined the campaign to encourage people to have their coronavirus vaccine, saying it will allow them to “get your freedom back”.
Downing Street has released a message from the football manager thanking the public for their support during the team’s journey to the Euro 2020 final and urging younger people in particular to get the jab.
In the UK, only 58% of people aged 18-25 have their first dose, according to new Public Health England data, despite all adults having been offered the jab. There are also large disparities in uptake by ethnicity.
Southgate, 50, said: “Oldies like me have had both jabs, so we can crack on with our lives, but for you younger ones especially, it’s the chance for everything to open up, to get your freedom back.
“Just firstly wanted to say thank-you for the support you gave the team this summer, but also to say look, we know the last 18 months have been incredibly difficult for everybody. And there’s no doubt that the vaccination programme is our best route out of this problem, not only for us as a country, but across the world.
“So I just wanted to say how important it is, if you haven’t had your vaccine yet, to go and get it done. So much of that is going to rest on you having the vaccine. So, don’t put it off any longer, go and get it done, we can open everything up, we can protect the people we need to protect and you guys will get your freedom back. Look forward to seeing you soon.”
Southgate was widely praised prior to the tournament for saying that his England players have a “duty” to interact with the public on issues such as equality, inclusivity and racial injustice and that they would continue to take a knee before matches.
Last month the government ran a “grab a jab” campaign in which adults in England were able to turn up without an appointment at hundreds of walk-in vaccination sites which included football stadiums, theatres, supermarket car parks and shopping centres. Among the sports grounds involved were the Newcastle Eagles basketball arena, Watford’s Vicarage Road, Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium and Edgbaston cricket ground.
There have also been numerous targeted advertising campaigns. The latest involved celebrities including actors David Walliams and Jim Broadbent along with the singer Nicola Roberts encouraging everyone over 18 to get their Covid jab.