Between 15 December 2021 and 3 January 2022, 66% of British adults said they had received two doses as well as a booster jab, up from 46% in the first half of December

Covid vaccine

Britons have responded to the Omicron variant by increasing home COVID-19 testing, getting vaccinated, and continuing to wear face masks in public places, the latest data suggest.

An Opinions and Lifestyle Survey conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) assessed the impact of new public health protection measures introduced in England, Scotland, and Wales to control the spread of COVID-19 and protect the NHS.

Last month, health authorities and political leaders intensified appeals for people to get vaccinated. Consequently, the survey findings indicate that, between 15 December 2021 and 3 January 2022, 66% of British adults said that they had received two doses as well as a booster jab, up from 46% in the first half of December.

Testing 

Since the middle of December, 57% of people said that they had taken lateral flow tests compared with 42% in the previous reporting period, with a higher proportion of younger people taking them. The data show that 65% of those aged 16–49 years said that they had taken a lateral flow test, compared with 54% of people aged 50–69 years, and 38% of those aged 70 years and over.

The most common reasons for taking a test were before meeting up with family and friends (46%) and before going to work or college (29%). Around one in 10 people (9%) had been asked to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a recent negative test, most often at a theatre or comedy performance or at a nightclub or bar.

Younger people were more likely than older adults to have met up or socialised outdoors with others outside their household in the last few weeks.

Face masks and social distancing 

Throughout the three nations, people have continued to wear face coverings, with 96% saying that they had worn a face covering when away from home at some point in the past 7 days—up from 94% in the first half of December, and similar to the same period 12 months ago.

Older people were more likely to wear a mask, but compliance was almost as high in younger people aged 16 years and over.

In the hospitality sector, just over one-third reported that they often or always wore a face covering inside a restaurant, café, or bar.

Advice to maintain social distancing was followed by 43% of adults, whereas 63% said they avoided physical contact with others outside their home, according to the ONS figures. Older people and the clinically extremely vulnerable were more likely to keep their distance.

Around three in 10 (32%) reported working from home at some point over a 7-day period, unchanged since the last survey.

Wellbeing and perceptions about the future 

Difficulties accessing healthcare and treatment for non-COVID-19-related issues were reported by 38% of participants, with 27% saying that COVID-19 had affected their work and 20% their education.

Around two-thirds of people said that they were very or somewhat worried about the effect of the pandemic on their lives. On a scale of one to 10, where 0 was ‘not at all’ and 10 was ’completely’, mean life satisfaction was rated as 7, and anxiety levels scored 4.2—a slight increase since early December.

Overall, 42% of adults stated that their wellbeing was being affected by the pandemic, and 19% said the same about their relationships. More than one-quarter (26%) reported feeling lonely often/always or some of the time.

Asked about their perceptions of the future, 35% believed that their life would not return to normal for more than a year, down from 39%; 13% said that they never expected that to happen, and 31% were not sure.

The ONS data were based on online responses from 4700 adults aged 16 years and over. The sample period was lengthened by 7 days because of the Christmas and New Year holidays.

This article originally appeared on Medscape, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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