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Young people in Newbury ‘super enthusiastic’ for Covid-19 vaccine

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YOUNG people have been "super enthusiastic" and quickly booked their Covid-19 vaccines, now that all over-18s are eligible to arrange jabs through the NHS website, writes Lars Mucklejohn.

The Kennet Shopping centre vaccination site, managed by the private company Ascent Healthcare in collaboration with NHS England, opened in June and has filled the void left by the closure of the Newbury Racecourse site, which had delivered more than 66,000 jabs.

“The younger people have been great – there’s been very few no-shows,” said site leader Zohib Sheikh, praising their “super enthusiastic” response. “We’re constantly asking NHS England to give us more vaccine,” he added, pointing out that the site would be at full capacity – more than 600 appointments per day – for the next three weeks.

Sports reporter Liam Headd received his first vaccine this week
Sports reporter Liam Headd received his first vaccine this week

Site volunteer Angela Mildenhall further highlighted the enthusiasm of young people, describing how one girl afraid of needles was still keen to get her vaccine. She added that many have speculatively come to the site to see if there are extra doses available.

Newburytoday spoke to several people with appointments at the site.

Jennifer Allen, 25, said that she did not know anyone who did not want the vaccine. Keen to travel to Spain in September, she booked her appointment the day after she found out that she was eligible.

Liam Lillywhite-Buley, 26, emphasised it was everyone’s responsibility to “stop the spread”. He described how he and his friends booked soon after they became eligible, comparing young people’s rush to get vaccinated with Glastonbury Festival tickets.

Josh and Beth Mia-Smith, 33 and 37, were keen to protect themselves and family members.

Mrs Mia-Smith said: “I had long Covid for months, and I just thought I can’t risk getting it again because I was so ill.”

She described how the older children at the school where she works were largely enthusiastic about getting the vaccine soon.

Newburytoday sports reporter Liam Headd, 25, got his jab at the Boots store in Northbrook Street. He booked as soon as possible and said: “The jab is not only protecting yourself, but it is protecting others in your community, and I think it is important that if you are eligible for it, you should have it.

"The speed of the vaccine rollout is significant, and as we continue to see the easing of restrictions, it’s important that we do as much as we can to help things get back to normality.”

During a West Berkshire Council meeting last week, communications manager Martin Dunscombe outlined a new strategy to promote the vaccine to young people on social media.

#WhatsYourReason asks young people why they are personally getting the jab. Common reasons have included hearing live music, visiting relatives, and travelling.

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