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Most U.S. teens, young adults want to get COVID-19 vaccine, survey finds

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Most U.S. teens, young adults want to get COVID-19 vaccine, survey finds
Most U.S. teens and young adults want to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a new survey. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Most teens and young adults want to get vaccinated against COVID-19, a survey published Friday by JAMA Health Forum found.

About 75% of people ages 14 to 24 years in the United States who responded to the survey, conducted by the University of Michigan's Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, said they would get the shot, the data showed.

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Most agreed with the statement that vaccination was important to "help stop the spread [of the virus], as well as get back to normal as soon as possible," the researchers said.

Still, about 42% of respondents said they were concerned about COVID-19 vaccine side effects and 12% indicated they worried about the shot's effectiveness, according to the researchers.

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However, nearly one-third of respondents reported that they had no concerns about the vaccines, the data showed.

"Young adults in the United States want to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect themselves and return to normal," study co-author Dr. Stephen Gorga told UPI in an email.

"Most youth also say they will continue mitigating behaviors like wearing masks even after vaccination," said Gorga, an assistant professor of pediatric critical care medicine at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor.

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Just over 56% of respondents said they would not change their behaviors after receiving the vaccine, and 46% indicated that, though they would feel more "comfortable" after getting the shot, they would continue mask-wearing and social distancing, the researchers said.

About 15% of respondents said they would discontinue these practices, according to the researchers.

Vaccines against COVID-19 have been available since December, when the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech shots were approved for use. The single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot was released earlier this year.

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In May, the Food and Drug Administration cleared the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children age 12 years and older.

Moderna is in the process of studying its vaccine in children ages 12 to 17 years and both companies have expanded clinical trials to include those ages 5 to 11 years.

Through Thursday, about 9.2 million people ages 12 to 18 across the country were fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although older adults and those with chronic health conditions were believed to be at increased risk for virus earlier in the pandemic, cases among young people are on the rise, as many of them remain unvaccinated, the agency said.

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Nationally, 18- to 29-year-olds have the highest infection rate of any age group, with 182 cases per 10,000 people in the general population for the week ending Aug, 14, the CDC said.

During the same period, there were 166 cases per 10,000 people in the general population among 16- and 17-year-olds, and 143 cases per 10,000 people in the general population for 12- to 15-year-olds, according to the agency.

All of these infection rates are more than double those for older adults age 65 years and older, about 81% of whom are vaccinated against the virus, it said.

Gorga and his colleagues surveyed nearly 1,100 people ages 14 to 24 years from across the United States, though about 96% of respondents were ages 16 to 24 years.

The survey population was evenly distributed, geographically, across the United States, but more than 90% of the respondents resided in urban or suburban areas, the researchers said.

Among the respondents 62% were White, 7% were Black, 13% were Asian and 11% were Hispanic, according to the researchers.

About 43% of respondents still were in high school or were high school graduates, while 40% had attended attended college. The rest were college graduates, the researchers said.

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Of those who wanted to get the COVID-19 vaccine, 35% indicated they were motivated by a desire to protect themselves and 21% cited protecting others, the data showed.

Among the 16% who reported that they would definitely not get the shot, 44% had safety concerns and 26% were worried about side effects, according to the researchers.

In addition, 21% felt the vaccine approval process was rushed, the researchers said.

However, 73% of respondents said they believe the vaccines are safe, while 11% did not, the data showed.

"Parents and caregivers should support youths' desires to protect themselves and others by facilitating vaccination and ensuring easy access to masks," Gorga said.

"Every vaccine-eligible person should get vaccinated against COVID-19 and other vaccine-preventable diseases so they can fully participate in the activities that are critical to their growth and development," he said.

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