FUKUOKA, Japan >> As COVID-19 vaccinations get into full swing for people under age 65, a notable number of young people are avoiding the vaccine.
More than 80% of those age 60 and older said they were committed or likely to get vaccinated, compared with only 30% of respondents in their 20s. That’s according to an online survey of about 600 people in April by Takayuki Harada, a clinical psychology professor at the University of Tsukuba.
Harada believes many younger Japanese are swayed by side effects from the vaccine, and a smaller group aren’t concerned about the virus because few in their age group get seriously ill.
“Young people are focusing on risk from side effects, rather than the benefits of vaccinations,” he said.
Meanwhile, misinformation has been circulating, mainly on social media. Claims that the vaccine causes sterility and that it alters genes also are affecting decisions about getting inoculated.
Regulatory reform Minister Taro Kono, charged with the vaccine rollout, has publicly denied the rumors. He recently appeared in a YouTube video popular with young adults.
“It’s being said that vaccinated lab mice died within two years, but the life span of such mice is two years,” he stated. “In the United States there have been 200 million shots of vaccine administered, but no one has died from the vaccines.”