Experts warn clear messaging is key in getting public to follow rules after Covid jab

Good communication with the public is vital to prevent people abandoning social distancing measures after being vaccinated, a committee of experts advising the Government has warned.

Saturday, 27th February 2021, 12:03 pm
Updated Saturday, 27th February 2021, 12:04 pm

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said those who had received a Covid-19 jab might be less inclined to stick to the rules unless the science behind transmission is clearly explained.

The group added in a recent paper that the vaccine roll-out’s success may mean that people who have not had a dose may “perceive there is no longer a major risk to vulnerable people”.

Sage also noted 20% of UK adults have received a first dose of vaccine, while 16% believe they have recovered from the virus – a belief associated with perceptions of immunity.

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Sage said those who had received a jab might be less inclined to stick to the rules unless the science behind transmission is explained to them.

It warned these figures may create the impression the threat of coronavirus has permanently receded, making it harder to stick to restrictions on seeing friends or family.

Sage said: “As restrictions change, messaging should be careful to ensure that the importance of continued adherence to protective measures is well explained.”

The group also warned it could create new problems for policing, as more people may start to believe social distancing measures are illegitimate.

Unless measures are either relaxed or their continued necessity explained, the group said it could lead to “resentment and lower levels of compliance” with the law.

The Covid-19 vaccine programme began in December 2020.

So far, police forces across the UK have been using an “engage, explain, encourage and enforce” strategy.

Sage said this strategy of persuasion could become less effective if people believe they should no longer be subject to restrictions.

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