WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — The race to vaccinate is on across Pennsylvania and the rest of the country.
But that race to help conquer COVID may soon hit a roadblock. It has to do with young adults who have lost their desire to get the shot.
Adults in the age group known as Gen Z which now rebelling nationally against getting the COVID vaccine.
Some of the roughly 2,500 Wilkes University undergraduate students paused Wednesday to get their headshot photos taken. But what many young adults 24 or younger, known as Gen Z, just can’t picture is getting the COVID vaccine.
“I feel like to some degree I also have that bit of rebelliousness,” said 21-year-old Wilkes University junior Ryan Astleford. He says despite that, he will probably get the vaccine.
But a recent NBC poll found 26 percent of Gen Z adults are disinterested in getting the shot or skipping it altogether.
“I probably will eventually. I’ve just been waiting on it just to make sure I’m comfortable with receiving it and just to see how everybody reacts,” said Madison Kaminski, a Wilkes graduate.
At the start of the pandemic, Gen Z led all age groups interested in getting the vaccine. An NBC poll last year found only five percent planned to pass on the shot if one became available. So why has that number quintupled? The answer could very well be that many young adults are back to their pre-pandemic ways on college campuses, doing the bar scene and even heading on spring break finally getting that close contact they craved.
“I understand people’s need to be together and that goes for all of us,” said Atul Grover, MD, Ph.D., the Executive Director of AAMC Research and Action Institute.
But experts say that shouldn’t happen unless we are continuing safe practices and get vaccinated.
“We’ve got just a couple more months to go here before we can start doing that safely,” said Grover.
Also at stake? If Gen Z doesn’t get vaccinated, herd immunity will likely remain out of reach.
“It’s concerning for me. I mean everyone has their own opinions but it’s really sad when you see everything that’s going on and other people are trying to take initiative and help out and then there’s a big group of people that’s lessening what we’re trying to do,” said Taylor Barletta, a senior at Wilkes University.
Barletta already received the vaccine since she is required as a student providing health care to the community. All Pennsylvanians 16 and older are eligible to schedule appointments for the COVID vaccine by April 19th.
One other reason Gen Z adults listed as why they would skip the shot is because their vulnerable parents or grandparents are already vaccinated.