Earlier this week, Sajid Javid announced plans to make Covid-19 vaccination mandatory among front-line NHS staff. The move, which will be implemented next year, is one of the toughest interventions made by the government to encourage people to get jabbed.
The UK Health and Social Care Secretary said that 90 per cent of NHS workers had already received two doses of a vaccine but that more than 100,000 remained completely unvaccinated.
This stubborn lack of vaccine uptake among a minority of NHS staff is symbolic of a wider reluctance within the population as a whole. Just 73.8 per cent of the UK population has had at least one vaccine dose, leaving the country trailing behind many of its peers (see chart below), and well short of the herd immunity threshold needed to combat more virulent variants of Covid.
Even after excluding children under the age of 12 – who are not eligible for a vaccine – a large number of people in the UK (one in eight) have not received a single dose.