UK's NHS launches video campaign warning of debilitating long Covid

Government film is aimed at encouraging reluctant young people to get vaccinated

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The UK’s National Health Service has released a video aimed at persuading reluctant young people to get vaccinated.

It is focused on young patients suffering with the debilitating effects of long Covid.

The video features three previously healthy people in their early 20s and 30s, including a man who thought he would die with the virus in hospital.

From today, 16 and 17-year-olds in England are invited to book their first doses.

The invitation extends to “at-risk” people aged 12 to 15 before their return to school next month.

People aged 18 to 34 now make up more than one in five of those admitted to hospital with the virus, which is four times higher than the peak in winter 2020, the NHS said.

Support worker Quincy Dwamena, 31, described himself in the clip as a “healthy young guy” who “went to the gym often” and delayed getting the vaccine – but became seriously ill.

Mr Dwamena, from east London, said: “I ended up being hospitalised and thought I was going to die. My advice is to get the vaccine: don’t put yourself and others at risk, I wish I’d got mine as soon as it was offered.”

Megan Higgins, 25, and Ella Harwood, 23, were both previously healthy and active but are now suffering with extreme fatigue because of long Covid.

“It’s now been eight months since I tested positive and I can’t even walk around the shops without getting exhausted," said Ms Higgins, a special needs tutor from London.

“Long Covid is debilitating, so please get vaccinated. I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through what I have.”

Ms Harwood, an illustrator from London, said: “I’m young and fit but I was bed-bound for seven months with Covid-19.

“Before I caught the virus, I was super-active and had no health concerns but I now suffer with asthma – which I didn’t have before – and a number of allergies.

Quincy Dwamena described himself as a 'healthy young guy'. Photo: NHS

“I fear I’ll never be the same again but I’m making progress and I’m very grateful that I’m still alive.”

One expert advising the government said he thought fewer young people were likely to get a coronavirus vaccine compared with older age groups, but that he was “optimistic” the majority would want to be inoculated.

“I don’t think we’re going to see as many young people receiving the vaccine as the elderly," Prof Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, told Sky News.

“Old folks like me were living in fear of Covid with very large numbers of serious cases, admissions and deaths, and clearly as you come down through the age groups you see those rates coming down.

“But nevertheless, I think we can be optimistic that the majority of young people will want to receive the vaccine.”

Having two doses of the vaccine approximately halves the risk of experiencing symptoms which last more than 28 days after infection, the Office for National Statistics said.

Public Health England figures show people aged 16 to 29 are most likely to get long Covid, but vaccine uptake among this age group is lower than average – particularly in London.

Speaking in the NHS video, emergency medicine physician Dr Emeka Okorocha said most of the young people admitted to hospital with coronavirus were unvaccinated.

“As an A&E doctor, I’ve seen a lot during the pandemic," he said "But nothing has shaken me like the sight of young, otherwise healthy adults being rushed into our hospitals with Covid-19.

“As well as their age, many of them have one other thing in common – they are unvaccinated.”

The NHS released the video aimed at persuading reluctant young people to get vaccinated. AFP

The government has launched “grab a jab” pop-up vaccination sites including at London-based nightclub Heaven and at football stadiums and festivals across the country.

“I encourage everyone to come forward for both their jabs as quickly as possible as vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from serious illness," Health Secretary Sajid Javid said.

NHS England has launched an online walk-in site finder to help people find their nearest GP-led vaccine centre from the 800 available.

A total of 89,070,370 vaccinations have been administered in Britain, including 47,573,794 people with a first dose (87.5 per cent of the population) and 41,496,576 with a second (76.3 per cent).

Updated: August 23, 2021, 9:23 AM