Vaccine hesitancy among young people 'endangers most vulnerable'

They estimate that 80 per cent of people need to be vaccinated to achieve total protection

Vaccine hesitancy among young adults may hamper efforts to reach herd immunity, a US study has found.

Experts estimate 80 per cent of people need to be vaccinated against the virus that causes Covid-19 to achieve immunity.

Estimates range from 10 to 50 per cent for long Covid symptoms, which is a serious concern for young adults, given their high infection rates and low vaccination rates
Sally Adams, University of California, San Fransisco

But research has shown some young adults are reluctant.

In a survey of more than 5,000 18 to 24 year-olds by the University of California, San Francisco, one in four said they "probably will not" or "definitely will not" have themselves vaccinated.

That is despite the fact they are “more likely than other age groups” to transmit the virus.

Research has shown younger people are far less likely to die from the coronavirus, but they are still vulnerable to suffering lasting effects.

"Young adults who have had Covid, regardless of symptoms, may be vulnerable to long-term complications and debilitating symptoms that may include respiratory difficulties, loss of smell and brain fog, often referred to as 'long Covid',” said Sally Adams of the university's National Adolescent and Young Adult Health Information Centre.

“Estimates range from 10 to 50 per cent for long Covid symptoms, which is a serious concern for young adults, given their high infection rates and low vaccination rates."

The UAE, which has one of the world’s highest vaccination rates, is already close to a level deemed high enough to achieve heard immunity.

The country has administered 163 vaccine doses per 100 people. In total, 66.7 per cent are fully vaccinated, and 76.2 per cent have received their first dose.

“People were eager to be protected when the vaccine was rolled out,” said Dr Sreehari Karunakaran Pillai, a specialist in internal medicine at NMC Specialty Hospital, Abu Dhabi.

“Positive reviews and scientific data after a clinical trial of vaccines within the UAE bolstered the confidence of the public.

“Based on this trust, there was little hesitation to choose vaccination.

“In addition, the fact that the vaccines were free and easily available helped people get vaccinated early.”

Experts say vaccinating as many people as possible is important for protecting more vulnerable members of the public.

In another study from the UK, research showed people with learning disabilities are five times more likely to be admitted to hospital and eight times more likely to die compared with the general population.

Experts have said the UK’s vaccination programme against Covid-19 disadvantaged those with learning disabilities, prioritising people according to age, as opposed to the severity of comorbid disorders.

An assessment of health records of more than 14 million people revealed adults with severe to profound learning disabilities, such as Down syndrome and cerebral palsy, faced the highest risks.

Similar patterns were seen for children, but the “absolute risks” of hospitalisation and death remained small, the authors said.

"Before the next pandemic, investment in research is essential, to help us understand the risks faced by people with learning disabilities and how best to protect them from the high risks of hospital admission and death from Covid-19," wrote the researchers.

"People with learning disabilities have the same rights as everyone else, including the right to good health and to be safe from harm."

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Updated: July 15th 2021, 10:08 AM