Susanna Reid clashes with Ford over university vaccinations
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With university students set to return to campuses up and down the country in the coming weeks and months, Susanna Reid and Ben Shephard spoke to children’s minister Vicky Ford on Monday’s Good Morning Britain about the government’s approach. Following reports university students could be barred from lecture halls if they haven’t received both jabs of the Covid vaccine, Reid put Ms Ford on the spot as she questioned whether this was the most effective approach to encouraging vaccine take-up. And the GMB host made her stance clear against the idea of “forcing” students to receive the jab.
“How likely is this proposal that students who have been kept out of lectures for pretty much a whole year of their university education, might only be allowed back in if they’re double jabbed?” Reid put to Ms Ford as she joined the GMB host via video link.
Ms Ford replied: “Obviously we’ve prioritised access to education throughout the entire pandemic, and that’s why schools were the last to close and first to reopen back in March.
“We obviously want to get students back to university and for that to be as normal as possible when they return.
“So I think it’s really important that young people step forward for that vaccine because we know that that is the way that they can maximise the safety of not only them, but for the whole university community, and it’ll also maximize their freedoms.”
The Conservative MP continued: “Because from August 16, all adults who have been double vaccinated, they won’t have to self isolate if they’ve been in contact with someone unless they have a positive test or are showing symptoms themselves.
“So the vaccinations are a really important route towards normality,” Ms Ford added before Reid cut in to ask: “Is it true the prime minister is ‘raging’ about the relatively low vaccine uptake? That’s the report in the Times today,
“That actually this isn’t just about safety, this is a motivating factor. Introducing vaccine passports for nightclubs, for university lectures, and perhaps even Premier League games, it’s about effectively forcing people to get vaccinated?”
Ms Ford tried to stand firm: “Well, talking of Premier League games, you had Gareth Southgate yesterday encouraging young people to get the vaccine because that’s the way we all get back freedom for all of us.
“It’s such an important part of being able to unlock a wider part of society which is what we’re obviously doing. So we’re seeing an actually good take-up of that vaccinations, it’s seven out 10 adults have now had both doses,
“But there’s still about three million of those younger people who haven’t had a vaccination and I really would encourage them to do so.
But as the conversation continued, Reid continued to slap down the idea of mandatory vaccines, insisting it wouldn’t be effective with the younger people the government is hoping to target for the take-up.
“I have a university student [her son] and he’s already got one job and he’s got an appointment for another one, but there are plenty of parents who have children who are not in that situation.
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“And forcing them to get the jab is sometimes not the way to encourage.
“And telling them they can’t go back to lectures if they haven’t been jabbed – what about the alternative system of testing? Why jabbing?”
However, trying to swat away the claims, Ms Ford said: “So Susanna, no plan has been announced as of right now.
“But we do want to make sure that university life can be as normal as possible, which unfortunately for your university son and mine, has not been possible over the past 18 months.
“And a key way to get back to normality is to get those vaccination rates up.”
Ms Ford added about exemptions: “We’ve obviously said for those who can’t have the vaccine there have to be exemptions, and we said that about nightclubs as well.
“But we do need to make sure we look at all ways that university life can be done as safe as possible,
“And making sure we have a high level of vaccination is really important to protecting all of us in this country.”
Good Morning Britain airs weekdays at 6am on ITV.
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