Blair: If you’re not vaccinated and eligible you’re an idiot
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The former Prime Minister said those who had not sought to get a jab and had no medical reason to avoid injection were “idiots”. He said the current state of the pandemic meant it was vital everyone played their part in containing Omicron and stopping the health service from being overwhelmed.
His remarks sparked outrage on social media, with many saying his intervention had been unhelpful.
They warned insulting those who had failed to take up the offer of a jab was unlikely to persuade them to change their opinion.
Last night Mr Blair appeared to row back on remarks that he made in an interview with Times Radio.
Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s PM programme he conceded: “Possibly I was a little too undiplomatic in my use of language.”
Speaking about the work of his non-governmental organisation, The Tony Blair Institute, he added: “We have got a piece of work out in the field at the moment as an institute, and I think the Government should do the same – just investigating what is the profile, what are the reasons why people are not getting vaccinated.
“You have, as a Government, got to go out and try individually to persuade these people.
“If this goes on for some time this will be a big problem for us.”
So far 89.7 percent of the population aged 12 and above have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine.
While taking up has been extremely high in older age groups, less than 75 percent of 16-39-year-olds have had a first jab.
Mr Blair’s about-turn on his remarks came after he told Times Radio: “Frankly, if you’re not vaccinated at the moment and you’re eligible and you’ve got no health reason for not being vaccinated, you’re not just irresponsible, I mean you’re an idiot.
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“I’m sorry, I mean that is, truthfully you are.
“Because this Omicron variant is so contagious, if you’re unvaccinated and you’re in circulation, you’re going to get it.
“And that is going to put a lot of strain on the health service.”
He added: “We shouldn’t target these people who are unvaccinated in a heavy-handed way, but we should be trying to go after them and persuade them.
“There may be all sorts of reasons but, honestly, it is in their own interest, never mind the public interest, for them to get vaccinated.”
The Government has launched a series of public messaging campaigns to try and increase take up.
A Covid certification system has also been recently made law.
It requires Britons attending large events to show proof of two vaccines or a negative lateral flow test in order to gain entry.
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