Government to send UK-wide Covid reminder alert to mobile phones | Coronavirus

The government will send a UK-wide mobile alert urging the public to get a Covid recall, a move mobile operators fear will spark a backlash from customers opposed to vaccinations.

The UK’s biggest mobile operators – EE, O2, Vodafone and Three UK – have been asked by the government to send a message on Boxing Day.

The campaign will involve mobile operators sending a message on behalf of the government to their tens of millions of customers. The post is likely to be on behalf of the NHS, with the text encouraging all adults to get more immunized.

The proposed copy of the text message will say, “Get Boosted Now.” Every adult needs a Covid-19 booster vaccine to protect themselves against Omicron. Get your Covid-19 vaccine or booster. See the NHS website for more details.

It is understood that mobile operators will all be able to get the message across, but some reluctantly agree given the highly politicized nature of the immunization program.

“Operators are feeling a little worried about angering some customers because this is such a hot issue,” a source from the telecommunications industry said. “We will get there, but we don’t want those who disagree with the message to blame us. “

Earlier this month, Tesco’s festive TV campaign starring Santa Claus carrying a passport for the Covid vaccine was cleared by the British advertising watchdog, despite anti-vaccination campaigners advertising it the second most popular. most criticized of all time.

The government has confirmed that the national text alert will take place on Boxing Day.

“We are texting this Boxing Day to get all eligible adults boosted now,” said Sajid Javid, Secretary of Health and Social Affairs. “Protecting yourself with the booster has never been more important – so whether it’s between turkey sandwiches or before Boxing Day games, whatever your traditions, make the booster part of them. This year.

“Millions of vaccine slots are available through the holiday calendar, so if you’re not boosted and you get this text message, accept the offer and get your shot.”

Last March, at the start of the pandemic, the government used mobile operators to send a message regarding NHS support and to offer general advice on coronavirus health.

It is understood that the government plan will not use the national mobile emergency alert system, set up to send targeted information in the event of events such as flooding. If it goes ahead, the message will instead be sent by the operators separately.

In October, the government launched a nationwide advertising campaign encouraging people to take Covid-19 booster shots.

The push comes as Boris Johnson used his Christmas message on Friday to tell the public to give the “wonderful” gift of a reminder to their families this year.

Johnson admitted that after nearly two years it was not possible to say the pandemic was receding, as the UK on Thursday reported a record 120,000 new cases of the coronavirus.

In the speech, Johnson said: “While the time for gift shopping is theoretically running out, there is still one wonderful thing you can give to your family and to the whole country, and that is to get that shot. , whether it’s your first or your second, or your booster, to make next year’s festivities even better than this year’s.

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The government has decided not to implement new Covid restrictions until Christmas, but could meet as early as Monday to decide whether restrictions would be needed in England in the new year.

The latest UK Health Security Agency analysis on Thursday suggested Omicron is milder than older Covid variants such as Delta, with 50 to 70% less likely to be admitted to hospital. However, data has also shown that protection against a booster starts to wane after 10 weeks.

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