Vaccine refusal may be a sign of disgust for the entire COVID-19 circumstances
Author: Keiichiro Hayashi
Nada High School
Editor: Chiharu Kawasaki
The biggest reason young people don't want to get vaccinated is that they are somewhat resentful. What I have lost and the hardships I have experienced may be nothing compared to those genuinely affected by this situation. But still, I have lots to say.
They canceled most of the events I aimed at or was excited for: school events, competitions, etc. I had been working so hard to win my chance for a short-term study abroad program, but they called off the program, and all my hardworking vanished in vain.
The Olympics games touched me. Yes, I was happy that it was held. Yet I was frustrated and resentful at the same time.
We did what adults told us to do for the sake of preventing infection, then many things supposed to be our good memories have gone. On the other hand, the Olympics, which is something far, far away from our everyday life, were executed while the spread of the infection was at its peak. That situation was very much frustrating and disappointing.
They said our endurance was for our family and the people around us. Then why did they push through the Olympics, which many people around us were against holding? For what, we had to wear a mask at all times, reduce and cancel school events and follow restrictions on club activities? If they can do the Olympics, why on earth were we not allowed to go out or travel?
I know that the Olympics are "special" and that the decision to go ahead is good for the economy and diplomacy. Even so, it was not quite convincing to make it an exception under the circumstances. To me, it was unclear how that economic and diplomatic good would be given back to our lives.
Not all people in my generation thought this much depth, but they must have felt unreasonable to a greater or less extent. For us young, infectious disease control is more about protecting the lives of others and maintaining our social lives than saving our biological lives. School forces us to take measures against the COVID-19. We will be glared at or warned if we don't wear a mask on the train; we will be backstabbed if we get infected. Some youngs may be truly trying to stop infectious diseases. But most of us are just trying to protect our right to keep life going. Taking measures is the only way to make it happen.
However, even though I obeyed them and followed the rules to live my life, the government told us to cancel our events while they do their events: the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020. Furthermore, they told us to get vaccinated. I could not bring myself to do that. I had no intention of cooperating with the government to clean up the mess they made only for their interest. In addition, hearing that the vaccine's clinical trial was not going well and that there might be residual aftereffects amplified my anxiety, even if they said that the vaccine was safe. It is a drug that they say could kill you if you exercise immediately after the vaccination, and it is also something you put into your own body. It is only natural to be cautious, and it is a decision that each should make of us.
They said that young people who don't get vaccinated are a nuisance, but it was them who are a nuisance who push vaccines upon us. Adults were saying that it is up to us whether or not to get vaccinated, but to my ears, those words sounded exactly like, "you must get vaccinated."
It may seem just a childish tantrum, young people saying, "I don't want to get vaccinated because my parents want me to." but it is the essence. We are giving up our freedom and youth, but the policy seems incomplete and takes us nowhere. Some things were not reasonable in terms of infection control. I find the vaccine so repulsive because those were the ones who imposed vaccination; a convenient government and selfish adults and such a society. Vaccinations are sort of a symbol of the COVID-19 harassment; I didn't care if they explained their knowledge of mRNA vaccines. There would have been a similar aversion if the vaccines were something like cooling gel sheets. Fear of adverse reactions and anaphylaxis was just a made-out excuse.
There was a feeling of resistance to vaccines that words could not explain. I suspect that the opposition to being at the mercy of politicians was also behind the notable conspiracy theories about vaccines, especially overseas. They all hated the COVID-19 disaster, which had ruined their youth. I wrote the "COVID-19 disaster" rather than just the "COVID" because the pressure from the government, adults, and the atmosphere caused by the COVID-19 is just as detestable as much as the virus or disease itself. The process of resolving this hateful situation through a vaccine is not "overcoming" for us but "defeating" or pandering to the coronavirus. The failure of vaccination can be considered a protest by the youth. They know if we don't wear a mask, but they don't know if we have been vaccinated or not. As one form of self-expression, the refusal to vaccination is an expression of dissatisfaction with the policy of combating infectious diseases.
They should have pleaded if they wanted us to get vaccinated. First, the government should have revealed how much the measures have failed while restricting its people’s activities, and then explained how they still needed to hold the Olympics. By doing so, they could have gained a little more understanding and perhaps could have less vaccination refusal.
I understand this was the outcome of the people at the center of the government fighting hard day and night against the pandemic. I am not saying that they should have promoted more economic activities. Only I believe that the government should have fulfilled its utmost accountability to gain the people's wholehearted understanding and cooperation in this unprecedented national crisis.
Author: Keiichiro Hayashi
A second-grade student at Nada High School. GSC Practical Stage student at Kobe University, doing research related to quantum computers. Winner of RoboCup Asia 2021. In addition to his science-related activities, he is also involved in social activities such as being a high school diplomat for AIG. He has been an intern at the Institute for Healthcare Governance since spring 2021.