Many have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 for a complex mix of reasons. As a result, health authorities are rushing to find ways to change their minds.
Bridget Burke, 22, a college student from Michigan, said she was disturbed by rumors that COVID-19 vaccines could affect her reproductive health.
A 19-year-old fiber optic cable supplier from Georgia said Bryson Hardy said he was not worried about contracting the virus and had no plans to get vaccinated.
Cinda Heard, 27, a home health aide in Missouri, said she feared the vaccine's possible side effects and was inoculated only because her employer demanded it.
As the country's vaccination campaign slows and doses go unused, it has suddenly become clear that one of the biggest hurdles to mass immunity will be convincing skeptical young adults of all contexts to get vaccinated. In recent days, federal authorities have voiced alarm at the low vaccination rates among Americans in their late teens and early twenties, blaming them for the country's almost certain failure to meet the goal of President Joe Biden to administer at least one starting dose to 70 percent of adults by July 4.
However, the simple convincing argument for seniors - that a vaccine could save their life - doesn't always work for healthy 20-somethings who know they are less likely to face the most severe consequences of COVID-19.
As public officials scramble to find ways to entice young adults to get vaccinated, interviews across the United States suggest no single or simple solution can persuade these reluctant. Some are strongly opposed, some show only disinterest, and still, others offer an influenceable skepticism. Still, almost everyone who wanted to get vaccinated has already done so. Public health officials now face an overlapping mix of inertia, fear, lack of time and misinformation, while trying to convince Gen Z (sometimes one person at a time) to get vaccinated.
If you are busy, if you have trouble in all aspects of daily life and you do not believe that you want to be vaccinated, then you are in possession of a small thing which may not be right at all.," said Rex Archer, director of health in Kansas City, while inspecting a vaccination point in a store where only one person, a 38-year-old man, came to get vaccinated in 30 minutes Wednesday morning.
White House officials said they expected 70 percent of people over the age of 27 to receive at least the first dose by July 4. Still, if Americans ages 18 to 26 are added, the country is likely don't meet Biden's goal for all adults.
Many young adults are relatively healthy, and they often worry about work, school, and young children. Experts and young adults said that getting vaccinated is not always a priority.
"They are not people who are connected to the health system," said Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at New York University who studies vaccine-related questions. "They don't have a doctor to treat them: they go to their parents' doctor."
Throughout the pandemic, the public health message has emphasized that older residents were most at risk. However, Jodie Guest, a professor of epidemiology at Emory University, said that it "had the unintended consequence of making young people feel like there wouldn't be much of a problem if they got COVID-19."
"To begin with, there is a degree of immortality in this age group," Guest said.