A survey by a government-linked research institute has found that 55% of elementary schoolchildren in the country hope to get vaccinated against COVID-19 soon.

In Japan, those age 12 and older are currently eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations. As inoculations for children age 5-11 have started in the United States, a COVID-19 panel under Japan's health ministry is continuing discussions on whether a pediatric vaccination program should begin here as well.

Vaccinations in the 5-11 age group may kick off in Japan next February at the earliest if permission is given. But some remain cautious, noting that children tend to be asymptomatic or only show minor symptoms when infected with the virus.

The survey by the National Center for Child Health and Development was conducted in September following the fifth wave of infections that hit the country this summer. A total of 1,271 children ranging in age from elementary school first graders to third-year high schoolers, as well as 5,807 parents and other guardians, gave answers.

Of elementary school first-, second- and third-graders, 50% said they want to be vaccinated soon, while the rate stood at 60% among fourth- to sixth-graders. Overall, the rate among elementary schoolchildren came to 55%, the survey said.

Some of them said they want to get shots to prevent the possible transmission of the virus to family members and friends, while others noted that they may be able to play more with friends if they are immunized. Some said they could be subject to teasing if they did not receive a vaccination.

Meanwhile, 42% of first- to third-graders and 33 % of fourth-, fifth and sixth-graders said they do not want to get vaccinated, with some saying that an injection hurts and others stating that they may lower the guard against the virus once they get shots.

The survey also showed that parents and other guardians of 71% of first- to third-graders and those of 76% of older elementary schoolchildren want their kids to be vaccinated soon.

Some pointed to the risk of their children developing severe symptoms if they get the virus because they have underlying diseases. Others said their children would be able to meet their grandparents if they are immunized.

Parents and other guardians of 23% of children in the first three grades and those of 20% of older pupils were against their kids being vaccinated, with some commenting that they need to carefully study whether the vaccines will cause side effects in the future.

In the survey, 38% of all responding children, including high school students, said they felt that they did not want to go to school over the past week, due partly to concerns over the coronavirus and the lack of club activities at school.

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