Experts are calling for further public understanding about novel coronavirus vaccines as some people are wary of receiving inoculations.
“There is an urgent need to promote understanding about vaccines,” an expert said, calling on the government to offer detailed information and the public to make a calm decision as the country prepares for vaccinations against the coronavirus.
A survey by social psychologist Shoji Tsuchida, a professor at Kansai University, found that only 47.2% of the respondents wanted to receive vaccinations while 23.7% did not.
The survey, taken last December, covered 2,500 people in their 20s to 60s in 18 prefectures.
Tsuchida said that the wary attitude among some people is believed to reflect the fear of side effects and the belief that they will not be infected.
“Humans are naturally sensitive to danger,” he said. “It is natural to pay attention to danger instead of information about safety.”
“I hope people will make calm decisions, and weigh the severe symptoms (from coronavirus infections) against the side effects (of the vaccine) based on accurate information,” Tsuchida added.
The government should disclose the rate of occurrence for side effects and other information carefully, saying that side effects seen in other countries were not serious in most cases, he said.
“The final decision rests upon individuals,” he observed. “It is important (for the government) to stand by those who don’t want vaccinations and ask for understanding at the same time.”
Risk communication specialist Yumiko Nara said that many misunderstandings remain among the general public, including the idea that people will not become infected once they receive inoculations.
“There is a need to explain both the expected side effects and countermeasures, providing information about points of contact and relief programs,” said Nara, professor at the Open University of Japan and adviser to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
Some people may become concerned after hearing about the relief programs, so explanations need to be adjusted for such worries, she added.
“The government must grasp what citizens are afraid of and carefully communicate the scientific basis of vaccinations and measures against side effects,” Nara said.
She said it is important to respect the rights of people to make their own decisions about vaccinations, noting that excessive pressure on those opting against vaccinations may lead to a social divide.
Some young respondents to the survey, while answering that they will closely watch the situation before making a decision about vaccinations, expressed worries about medical workers.
It is important for people to take a step back and think about vaccinations not only as a disease prevention measure for individuals but for the society as a whole, including for medical workers, Nara said.
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