It has finally happened. After months of urging young people to do the right thing, Boris Johnson on Monday night tossed away the carrot and picked up the stick.

With the air of a disappointed father vowing to remove privileges from an errant teenager, the Prime Minister warned that only the double jabbed will be allowed to play en masse in September.

Nightclub and sporting privileges will be removed from refuseniks unwilling to help protect society, with vaccine passports introduced just in time to ruin freshers weeks around the country.

In some ways, it was inevitable. Poll after poll warned that young people were far less likely to take up the offer of vaccination than older generations. According to YouGov, those aged 16 to 34 were twice as likely to say they would refuse the jab as those aged 55 to 75.

By Sunday, every adult in the country had been offered a vaccine, yet three million 18 to 34-year-olds – 35 per cent – have either not booked an appointment or have decided to reject the jab.

Younger men lagging behind women on vaccine uptake

This is tricky when so much of the current Covid transmission is happening in younger age groups. 

The most recent case rate data from Public Health England (PHE) shows that infections are highest in those aged 20 to 29, with 614 cases per 100,000 people compared to just 27.9 per 100,000 in the over-80s. It means the very people who are driving the pandemic are taking the least responsibility in stopping it.

Yet their reluctance is easy to understand. Young people are at little risk from Covid and have faced huge disruption throughout the pandemic. Now their parents and grandparents have been protected, it is easy for them to believe they do not need a vaccination.

Couple that with a generation bombarded with vaccine conspiracy theories through social media and you have the perfect recipe for non-compliance. 

They may have got away with refusing the jab had it not been for one final nail in the coffin. On Monday, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) ruled against giving vaccinations to the majority of children.

There are around 13 million under-16s in Britain, which means that even with a perfect vaccine uptake only 80 per cent of the population could be vaccinated, making it far harder now to reach herd immunity – although it is still  possible that natural immunity could tip the scale.

How many people have been vaccinated?

A soaring case rate also makes herd immunity harder to reach, so it has suddenly become far more important to scoop up the last remaining few million young people who have not yet come forward. 

Now that the Government has committed itself to ending the school bubble system, it is crucial to keep community spread low to avoid outbreaks in unvaccinated populations of schoolchildren. 

The Government will also have been watching carefully what has been happening in France, a notoriously vaccine-hesitant country. Last week, Emmanuel Macron, the French president, announced that citizens will need an immunity "health pass"  to visit bars and restaurants following poor vaccine uptake.

On Monday, a record 926,000 French people booked their first dose through the online medical platform, with hundreds of thousands more booking slots on Tuesday.

So it is a gamble that is likely to pay off for Mr Johnson. One suspects few youngsters will refuse a jab that helps get their lives back to something resembling normality. It may even teach them a little something about collective responsibility – and in an era of epidemic levels of self-absorption, that can only be a good thing.