As municipalities prepare to inoculate adolescents against Covid-19, some have been inundated with calls and emails from irate people opposed to the young people getting the shots.
Officials say many of those opposed to the move seem averse to the coronavirus vaccine, and are particularly sensitive about the prospect of teenagers being vaccinated. The high volume of calls and emails as part of the anti-vaccination campaign have almost crippled service lines, and in some cases have included death threats, prompting some municipalities to dial back their commitment to getting youngsters in full-time education vaccinated.
Pediatricians have recommended Covid-19 shots for teens, although they say they need to be conducted with caution.
According to municipalities, it wasn’t until they announced their plans to vaccinate schoolchildren — following the central government’s decision last month to approve Pfizer Inc shots for those as young as 12 — that they became the target of a flurry of calls from across the nation.
One such municipality is the city of Komaki, in Aichi Prefecture. Earlier this month, the city said it was considering prioritizing middle and high school students for vaccinations so they could get the shots during their upcoming summer vacations, which typically start in late July.
The idea was to help restore normalcy as soon as possible so that schools could go ahead with a series of “once-in-a-lifetime” school trips and other events, many of which have been downsized or cancelled due to the pandemic, said a Komaki city official who asked not to be named.
But soon after, the city faced a barrage of phone calls and emails urging it to rethink the decision.
“Many of them were voicing concerns about long-term side-effects the vaccine could have on children. Others also said children shouldn’t be used as guinea pigs and that their future shouldn’t be ruined,” the official said. The city took about 100 such calls and emails, which at one point hampered its ability to accommodate other vaccine-related inquiries and reservation requests, he said.