Nearly half of over-80s who have received a COVID vaccine appear to have broken lockdown restrictions since having their jabs, new figures show.
The ONS said analysis of the behaviour and attitude of people over 80 in England in relation to the vaccine showed that nearly half of those who had received both doses had met someone other than a household member, support bubble or a personal carer, indoors, since being vaccinated.
The figures also showed that two in five (41%) people in the age group who had received their first dose less than three weeks ago had also admitted meeting someone outside of the permitted people indoors, in what the ONS said "appears to contradict lockdown regulations".
Responding to the figures, Boris Johnson's official spokesman said on Thursday: “It’s important that people continue to follow the guidelines that are in place.”
The ONS report also revealed how the over-80s appear to have been reassured by the vaccine, with nearly half (49%) perceiving coronavirus to be a major or significant risk to them personally without a jab – dropping to 5% if they were to get both doses.
It found that a quarter of the age group who had only received one dose of a COVID vaccine said they would be much or somewhat more likely to attend a hospital for medical reasons since being vaccinated – increasing to a third for those who had received both doses.
The ONS Over 80s Vaccines Insights study, which ran from 15-20 February , polled 2,070 over-80s in England, with around 1% residing in a care or nursing home.
It found that of the over-80s who had received at least one dose of a COVID jab, 41% had experienced side effects.
But of those who had experienced side effects, nearly two thirds (63%) said it wouldn't affect their decision to get the second dose, and 35% were more likely to get the second dose.
Overall, nearly all of the age group (96%) said they would be very or somewhat likely to encourage others to get a COVID vaccination, the report found.
Watch: Matt Hancock: 'Exciting new data' shows effectiveness of vaccines
Earlier this week, Matt Hancock urged Britons not to break coronavirus rules and “blow” progress as data suggested the two vaccines being used in the UK reduce hospital admissions in over-70s by 80%.
The health secretary told a Downing Street press conference that people must “keep sticking to the rules", adding: "Let’s not blow it now”.
His comments came alongside the good news that the number of hospital admissions was falling faster than that of cases – particularly among the older age groups who were vaccinated first, suggesting that "the vaccine is working".
Heralding a study by Public Health England which indicated that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines are highly effective in reducing infections among older people, he said: “A single shot of either the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine or of the Pfizer vaccine works against severe infection among the over-70s with a more than 80% reduction in hospitalisations”.
“In fact, the detailed data show that the protection that you get from catching COVID 35 days after a first jab is even slightly better for the Oxford jab than for Pfizer, albeit both results are clearly very strong.”
He said the results “may also help to explain why the number of COVID admissions to intensive care units among people over 80 in the UK have dropped to single figures in the last couple of weeks”.
According to government figures reported up to Tuesday, 20.7 million people in the UK had received their first dose of a COVID vaccine, with 895,412 having received a second.
On Monday, the lowest daily figure of people who died within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19 was reported, at 104, while there were another 5,455 lab-confirmed cases in the UK.