Tinder and other dating apps could be used to boost Covid vaccine uptake among younger generations, it was claimed today.
Ministers are hoping to expand the inoculation drive to invite under-30s for vaccines within the next fortnight.
Around 95 per cent of over-60s have come forward already. But health bosses fear younger adults — who face a much lower risk of falling seriously ill from Covid — will be more hesitant.
In an attempt to encourage younger adults to get vaccinated, officials are said to be considering using dating apps.
Ministers are discussing plans giving vaccinated users ‘blue ticks’ or banners to show fellow love-seekers they are inoculated. They are also considering taking out adverts to promote the vaccine and its benefits.
Dating apps could be used to promote Covid vaccine uptake in younger generations by allowing people to see if someone has been jabbed
Britain can achieve herd immunity against coronavirus — and may be able to get there without vaccinating children, one of the Government’s scientific adviser said today.
Professor Adam Finn, who sits on No10’s Covid vaccine advisory body, said uptake among adults was so high that the panel was ‘optimistic’ that the UK can stop the spread of the virus through jabs.
He said it was ‘an open question’ as to whether children will need to be inoculated.
On top of young children being very unlikely to fall ill with Covid, he claimed data had shown ‘they are not very infectious to each other or adults around them’.
No10 has reportedly already drawn up plans to vaccinate secondary school-aged children with Pfizer’s two-dose jab from September. Last week, regulators in the US green-lit plans for youngsters over 12 to be given the American-made jab, laying the groundwork for the plans to be approved here.
But critics say the strategy is ethically dubious because pre-teens are at such a low risk of the virus and the jabs can cause uncomfortable side effects.
There are growing calls for the plan to be ditched and for doses to be shipped to poorer nations where elderly and vulnerable people are yet to be jabbed.
Professor Finn, an expert in children’s health at Bristol University, revealed he was opposed to vaccinating children if it was possible to control the virus without giving them ‘invasive’ jabs.
A Government source told the Telegraph: ‘As we get to younger people, Tinder and all those apps will be approached to flag the importance of getting vaccinated.
‘It might also give more people impetus to meet up and find love.
‘This is being properly looked at. There are ongoing conversations. It would be a decision for platforms to be involved.’
Tinder, Hinge and Bumble declined to comment on whether plans to introduce the features were already under discussion, when asked by the newspaper.
It comes as ministers accelerate the vaccination roll-out with plans to reach all over-18s within a month.
Over-30s could be offered at least one dose by the end of May, with those in their early 20s jabbed in the first two weeks of June. The Telegraph reported.
England’s roll-out was expanded to 34 and 35-year-olds today, with one million adults expected to get a text inviting them to come forward either today or tomorrow.
Health officials have sped up the timetable to offer second jabs in a bid to ensure that those at highest risk are protected from the variant of the virus first identified in India.
At the same time, the programmes are extending to younger age groups to try and mitigate risk.
Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director for the NHS in England, said: ‘The success of the NHS Covid vaccination programme, the biggest in history, is not by accident but down to careful planning and precision by NHS staff who have now delivered 48.5million doses across England in less than six months.
‘Getting the jab is the single most important step we can take to protect ourselves, our families and our communities against Covid.
‘So when you’re called forward, book your appointment and join the tens of millions who have already been jabbed.’
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘Our vaccination programme — the fastest and most successful in NHS history — moves forward at pace with 34 and 35-year-olds now being invited for the jab.
‘This is incredible news and means we remain on track to hit our target of offering a vaccine to all adults by the end of July.
‘The vaccine is our way out of the pandemic and the key to getting back to normal.
Prince William tweeted this picture today as he revealed he had received his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday
‘I’m delighted 70 per cent of adults across the country have already been vaccinated with their first dose, and 40 per cent with their second.
‘We have one of the highest uptake rates in the world but we’ll continue to do everything we can to make sure no one is left behind. Please come forward for the jab once you get the offer — it could save your life and protect your loved ones.’
Vaccination experts have previously advised that people under the age of 40 should receive an alternative vaccine to the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab due to the link between the jab and extremely rare cases of blood clots.
This means under 40s will be offered the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
Figures released by the Department of Health and Social Care today show UK health services have administered 57.8million vaccines, including 36.9million people with their first dose — or 70.2 per cent of the adult population.
Meanwhile, 20.8m people — almost two-fifths (39.6 per cent) of the adult population — had received both doses.
It comes as Prince William revealed today that he has received his first dose of the coronavirus jab from NHS medical staff at the Science Museum vaccination centre in London.
The Duke of Cambridge tweeted this morning: ‘On Tuesday I received my first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. To all those working on the vaccine rollout – thank you for everything you’ve done and continue to do.’
The 38-year-old royal posted a picture of himself wearing a mask with his sleeve rolled up and a needle in his arm as he received the jab at the museum in Kensington, near where he lives with wife Kate and their three children.
Read More: DailyMail