Why vaccine hesitancy in young adults matters

Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 10:13 AM EDT
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(CNN) - Experts have made it clear: To end the COVID-19 pandemic, people need to get vaccinated.

But there are still a lot who say that is not going to happen. It starts with crushing vaccine hesitancy, and it’s proving to be a challenge among younger people.

“Get vaccinated so we can crush the outbreak,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

A CNN poll released Thursday found 31 percent of adults under the age of 35 don’t plan on getting vaccinated.

The reasons vary.

“(People say) ‘What’s in it for me, what’s the purpose of getting vaccinated if nothing changes?’” said Dr. Leana Wen, former City of Baltimore health commissioner.

“People when they hear it’s still emergency use, they still have a little concern,” Fauci said.

There’s also a political divide and an educational divide. Health experts respond by pointing to the bigger picture, like long-COVID.

“Even for young people who consider their risk of severe COVID to be low, the long-term consequences can be quite serious,” said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health

They also say to consider the health of others, with the potential of spreading the virus to others.

“And then you’ll pass the infection on to someone else who might pass it on to someone else who might get seriously ill and might die,” Fauci said.

Health experts say getting COVID-19 under control means getting herd immunity up to at least 70 percent of the population.

Right now, it’s at 30 percent fully vaccinated, which is why there’s such a push to spread the word and to keep the virus from spreading.

“People look to their local leaders. They look to their faith leaders and they really look to their doctors,” said Jeff Zients, White House COVID-19 Response coordinator.

“As that happens, more people are getting vaccinated because they’re talking to other people who have been vaccinated, and it worked out well for them,” said Andy Slavitt, White House senior adviser for COVID-19 Response.

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