Why we need to give 18 year olds a break, says Catherine Scott

My 18-year-old has just had her Covid vaccination thanks to the amazing NHS walk-in centre in Leeds.

A woman receives a Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at an NHS Vaccination Clinic at Tottenham Hotspur's stadium in north London. The NHS is braced for high demand as anyone in England over the age of 18 can now book a Covid-19 vaccination jab.Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire
A woman receives a Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at an NHS Vaccination Clinic at Tottenham Hotspur's stadium in north London. The NHS is braced for high demand as anyone in England over the age of 18 can now book a Covid-19 vaccination jab.Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

My 18-year-old has just had her Covid vaccination thanks to the amazing NHS walk-in centre in Leeds.

She turned 18 in March this year and, to be honest, it has been pretty miserable for her and everyone her age. What should be the best days of their lives after A-levels have turned out to be very stressful.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

After constant assessments in place of A-levels, there was no big celebration for leaving school, no prom, not even a cheesy disco (showing my age now).

They did manage to go to a few pubs but it’s not the same as celebrating en masse with all the people you have spent the last seven years with before going your separate ways. They were looking forward, as we all were, to a return to something more akin to normality on so-called Freedom Day on Monday, but that, like so many other things, was also put on hold.

The pandemic has been hard on everyone but 18-year-olds, I believe, have had it worst than most – and continue to do so.

While holidays abroad are not going ahead, we had our fingers crossed for a postponed visit to friends in Guernsey. But last week the Guernsey government decided that, due to a rise in the Delta variant in England, only adults who were two weeks past their second vaccination were allowed in after July 1. Children under 18 take their parent’s vaccination status.

That means my eldest is no longer able to go on holiday with us. I do understand that, as an island that has managed to avoid the worst of the pandemic, protecting their borders is vital. But it is hard to explain to an 18 year-old, who lives at home, that she is of greater risk than her 16-year-old sister – which, of course, she isn’t.

The Department of Health’s announcement last week that now everyone over 18 can book a Covid vaccination was welcome, but sadly comes too late for us and our family holiday – possibly our last as she leaves home for university in September.

I know it was most important to double vaccinate the older age groups, but I also think it should have been possible to start vaccinating 18-year-olds sooner and reduce the wait between the two vaccinations as in other countries.

Now the Government is considering allowing all those double-vaccinated not to have to isolate after coming into contact with someone with Covid, it is likely that 18-year-olds will once again be the ones to be penalised.

This age group need to be able to get their lives back on track, they need to be able to socialise with friends and become independent before moving onto the next phase of their lives.