If you provide it, they will come: Japanese youth are not as hesitant about vaccines as politicians thought

Last month, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government set up a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination site at a public facility in the Shibuya district specifically to treat people between the ages of 16 and 39 who might otherwise have problems with their health. obtain vaccination reservations by conventional means.

The site was ready to administer 200 doses per day, but on August 27, the first day, around 300 people were already lining up long before the site opened, forcing staff to hand out reservation tickets and turn away anyone who came over. late.

The next day, an even larger crowd turned up and only 1 in 6 remained vaccinated. The site adopted a lottery system that Web magazine Litera called in “prehistoric times” because it required contestants to be physically present to get a number. This led to curious images of people lining up and looking at their phones to see if their number had been chosen. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike exacerbated the absurdity factor by complaining that people queuing for vaccinations were breaking social distancing protocols.

The metropolitan government’s miscalculation was based on the assumption that young people don’t want to be vaccinated, but that’s only true if you compare them to other demographics. Litera cites an Aug. 26 survey that found that between 19% and 16.7% of people in their 20s and 30s, respectively, do not plan to be vaccinated, compared to 12.1% of men in their 50s and 30s, respectively. 10.5% of women in their forties.

As Litera points out, the idea that young people are somehow opposed to vaccination informed much of vaccine minister Taro Kono’s coronavirus-related work over the summer. In June, he appeared on an online variety show with pop star Kyary Pamyu Pamyu to promote immunization for young people. In July, he collaborated with popular YouTuber Hajime Shacho (4.5 million views) to do the same. On Twitter Spaces, he had a conversation with X Japan frontman Yoshiki about vaccines, and also gave a press conference to arts agency Yoshimoto Kogyo asking for their help in “sending a message” to the people. young Japanese people to make sure they get vaccinated.

Litera says these movements are performative rather than promotional. The magazine thinks Kono is more interested in selling his new book, but since no one in authority has clearly explained his reasons for believing that young people are avoiding the vaccine, it is questionable whether Kono’s activities are in fact selfish. While the real story about vaccines is the authorities’ failure to deliver enough and timely doses to all who want them, a story the mainstream media has not explored in depth. If Kono had checked social media, he would have found young people desperate not to be able to make reservations for the shoot, mainly due to the deployment schedule, which prioritizes the elderly.

Asahi Shimbun’s August 27 report on the vaccination site presented a portrait of young Japanese people nearly at their wit’s end about their inability to secure reservations. Two people interviewed by Asahi on the Shibuya site said they read on social media that the line was forming in the middle of the night and immediately rushed to get in. A 26-year-old employee of the company told the reporter: “It is not true that young people do not want the vaccine. It is because there is no chance of getting one. A 23-year-old woman who said she had not originally planned to get the vaccine changed her mind because she feared she would develop severe symptoms and have to stay home due to the crisis in medical services. After receiving her vaccination coupons in the mail, she had tried to make reservations at designated facilities but failed.

There were even two high school students, including one whose mother drove her to Shibuya from Shiki in Saitama Prefecture and who told Asahi, “If I am infected, a hospital cannot help me.

These people were obviously attentive to the news, which is replete with disastrous and sometimes contradictory stories about the gravity of the situation this summer due to the spread of the delta variant, a virus more virulent and more dangerous than the one in general. year. A Tokyo Shimbun report from August 30 highlighted the increase in deaths from COVID-19 among people trying to recover at home, some of whom were rushed to hospital when their condition suddenly worsened but could not arrive on time. In Tokyo and three surrounding prefectures, 31 people died in such circumstances between August 1 and August 29. Of the 19 people who died in Tokyo, 18 were unvaccinated and two were in their 30s.

An August 25 report by Asahi Shimbun was even more detailed, describing a dozen recent cases of people dying, whether they had any underlying conditions and what type of treatment, if any, they received. Of the 12, one was under 40.

These reports show that young people are no longer invincible, if they ever were. Conventional wisdom last year was that healthy people under the age of 40 had little to fear from COVID-19, which may have given rise to the later belief that young people were reluctant to get the vaccine, but the situation has changed. In addition, the real emergence of vaccines in the meantime has made it clear that vaccination is the only way out of the pandemic.

The Shibuya vaccination pop-up site has since started taking bookings online, which means that the people who run it have come to realize not only that most young people want to be vaccinated but also that, contrary to the stereotype Attached to older Japanese people, they can more easily find their way around a phone app or website. The mission now, of course, is providing them with the injections they so crave.

See www.philipbrasor.com for addenda to Media Mix contributions.

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