Discounted meals and cheaper cab rides will be offered to customers who get a Covid-19 jab, as part of a government-led attempt to boost the uptake of vaccines.
Uber, Bolt, Deliveroo and Pizza Pilgrims are among the brands that will offer incentives to encourage young people to get vaccinated .
Almost 3 million under-30s are yet to receive a first COVID vaccine dose.
“It really is, for us, just the right thing to do”, Gavin Smith, director at Pizza Pilgrims, told Sky News.
The London-based restaurant chain is hoping to convert two sites into pop-up vaccination centres, where unprotected customers will receive a free slice of pizza if they get a jab.
“If that is the difference for somebody, who is tight on time, to come and get their jab, then we’re happy to give them a slice of pizza when they’ve had their jab”, Mr Smith said, revealing that 70% of his staff who are younger than 26 are yet to be fully vaccinated.
“This is to encourage as many of our young employees, as much as the general population, to get their jab”, he said.
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The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said taxi app firm Uber will be sending reminders to all users in August encouraging them to get jabbed.
The company will offer discounted journeys for young adults who receive a vaccine, as well as cheaper meals on its food delivery platform, Uber Eats.
Bolt, another ride-hailing app, will offer “free ride credit” to vaccination centres following a similar scheme earlier this year when it offered £250,000 worth of free rides to London vaccination facilities.
Deliveroo will give vouchers to young people who get jabbed.
A spokesman said: “We want to do our small part to support the NHS during the pandemic, including delivering a million free meals to frontline NHS staff and vaccine centres. This is the next step in helping people get vaccinated and safely back to normal.”
Health Secretary Sajid Javid urged people to “take advantage of the discounts” and thanked the businesses involved for “stepping up”.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said there was “strong enthusiasm” among young people so far to get vaccinated, adding: “Please get your jabs as soon as you can and grab a bargain.”
But some scientists fear the scheme could backfire due to confusing government messaging.
The positive incentives follow suggestions from ministers that university students may need to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus to attend lectures.
“I think you could easily alienate people” Professor Lawrence Young, a specialist in viral oncology at Warwick Medical School, told Sky News.
“What we’ve got to do, I think, is have much better messaging to younger folk about the benefits of vaccination for them personally and the people around them.
“What I don’t understand is why aren’t we being more proactive with social media and with the various celebrities that the 18 to 30-year-olds will perhaps respond to better?”
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DHSC said further details on partnerships will be released “in due course” and other incentives “could include vouchers or discount codes for people attending pop-up vaccine sites and booking though the NHS, social media competitions and promotional offers for restaurants”.
The government added: “Companies will not ask for or hold any health data for the incentive scheme.”
This means about 88.5% of adults had at least one jab, and 72.1% had two.
Currently, around 67% of 18 to 29-year-olds have had at least a single injection, according to DHSC.
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