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Two in five over-80s in England who have had a coronavirus jab have since broken lockdown rules by meeting up with someone indoors when not permitted, an Office for National Statistics survey suggests.
A similar proportion of over-80s reported having done so within three weeks of receiving a first dose. Three weeks is the period it takes for protection to build after the initial shot.
The respondents were asked whether they had met someone other than a household or support bubble member of personal carer, indoors, since receiving the jab. As a “large proportion” would have received it since the latest national lockdown was introduced, on 5 January, the ONS said respondents who said they had met people not permitted by the rules “would have been breaking lockdown regulations”.
Caroline Abrahams, a charity director at Age UK, said it was not a surprise that some over-80s may not have “abided by the letter of the lockdown guidance”, because many families would have felt the need to visit them to offer support.
She also said loneliness and depression would have led some to conclude that “it’s better to take a calculated risk in this respect than feel profoundly miserable on their own”.
Abrahams admitted: “I broke the rules myself a few weeks ago by helping a neighbour in her 90s understand an official letter that was worrying her. She is bedbound and hard of hearing and insisted on talking to me face to face.
“I was very conscious of the potential risk of infection and took all the precautions I could. It felt like the right thing to do and I imagine many others have found themselves in similar positions.
“When situations like this arise it’s down to us all to be responsible and use our common sense.”
She said she hoped older people’s confidence in the vaccine would help them feel able to engage with society when safe.
The ONS over-80s vaccines insights study, published on Thursday, ran from 15-20 February, by which point the government said it had offered the jab to everyone in the top four priority groups, which include the over-80s.
Of the 2,070 people polled, almost all (99.8%) said they had been offered a Covid jab. Just under half of over-80s who had received both doses said they since met up with someone indoors who was not in their household, support bubble or a care worker.
Asked if the elderly were behaving irresponsibly, the prime minister’s official spokesman said: “We are asking everybody to continue to follow the rules and guidelines.”
A quarter of over-80s who had received one dose said they would be much or somewhat more likely to attend a hospital for medical reasons since being vaccinated, increasing to one-third for those who had received both doses.
Approximately half of those polled perceived coronavirus to be a major or significant risk to them before receiving any doses, falling to one in five after hypothetically receiving one dose, and one in 20 after hypothetically receiving both doses.
Source: The Guardian
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