Starting uni? Put the COVID-19 vaccine on your freshers’ week to-do list

With freshers’ week coming up, new students are urged to get their COVID-19 jabs, before heading off on their big adventure.

If you’re going to university or college for the first time this September, you’ve probably got quite a long to-do list. But while you’re sorting out accommodation and shopping for pots, pans and new duvets, make time to get your COVID-19 jab, if you haven’t already done so.

Everyone aged 16+ is currently eligible for the vaccine in the UK and, to date, four out of five people have now received both doses. In addition, more than half of teenagers aged 16 and 17, in England, have had their jab, four weeks after it was first offered to this age group.

While the government hasn’t made vaccinations compulsory at universities, some institutions have introduced their own rules. Others are encouraging students to take up the vaccine offer with on-site clinics and incentives.

There is, however, no need to wait. You can get your vaccine in time for freshers’ week at one of the many walk-in clinics around Merton. The Pfizer jab is available at the Nelson Health Centre, the Wilson Hospital or Hilton Pharmacy at Morden Assembly Hall (dates vary). You can also get your jab at Merton College on Monday 13 September between 10am and 5.30pm. People aged 18+ can receive the Moderna vaccine at Centre Court shopping centre in Wimbledon daily until Sunday 12 September.

If you can get jabbed before you head off for uni, all the better, according to the experts. Freshers’ week, with its parties, club nights, sporting events and student society fairs, is an integral part of finding your feet when you arrive at university. Many institutions will be holding in-person events for the first time since the start of the pandemic – all with the potential to spread the virus, scientists say.

Eighteen-year-old Gabriel Wagner, who studies at Exeter University, just had his second dose ready for the start of term. He said: “In a week’s time I’m going back to university. I want to be able to do stuff and feel safe around other people, especially when coming home; I want to protect my family.”

He added a tip for anyone not sure about needles. “It doesn’t hurt. But if they jab you on your left, I recommend you look to your right!”

Get full details of when and where to grab a jab on the South West London NHS website.