A top doctor is urging unvaccinated students to get their COVID-19 jabs during freshers week, to protect themselves and their new peers against the virus.
Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director for NHS England said: “Starting university is a really exciting time and getting your COVID vaccine means you will be armed with maximum protection against the virus.”
It comes amid lagging vaccination rates among young people.
In England, everyone over the age of 18 has been able to book their vaccine since 18 June.
However, only 57% of 18 to 29-year-olds have received both doses. That compares with 82% of the entire adult population in England.
To combat this, dozens of universities are setting up walk-in vaccine centres for the thousands of students starting university in the coming weeks.
Tehmeena Amjal, COVID-19 operations director at Oxford Health, spoke at a walk-in site for students studying in the city.
She said: “Over the summer it has been a bit more difficult maybe to access the vaccine.
“And what we really want to do is remind people that COVID is still around and give people a chance to get a vaccine before they really start getting into the full life of university.”
The advocacy group Universities UK say they have been working to combat the misinformation that has led some to become vaccine hesitant.
Chief executive Alistair Jarmam said students have been sent lots of information about why the jab is important ahead of their arrival on campuses.
He added the aim is “to help people understand that it’s the right thing to do”.
To get into nightclubs, from 11 October students in Wales will be able to use an NHS COVID pass to prove their vaccination status.
In Scotland, students will need a COVID vaccination certificate from 1 October.
Although, in England there is no legal requirement to show proof of vaccination to enter a nightclub or large-scale event.
Some first-year students at a club in London told Sky News they would prefer it if vaccine passes were a requirement.
One said: “I think it would definitely make me feel better as you would have an idea of who is vaccinated and who is not and who you could feel more comfortable around.”
However, another student said: “I don’t think vaccine passports are important as people can make a choice about whether they have a vaccine or not and they shouldn’t be forced to do it.”
Hartpury University and College in Gloucester, a specialist agricultural and veterinary nursing college, has banned unvaccinated students from living on site to ensure maximum protection against the virus.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Starting university is one of the most significant moments in the lives of millions of people every year – and having your jab could be one of the most important things you do to ensure you get the best out of it.”