Study finds ‘high level’ of Australians preparing to reject vaccine

With at least two vaccines providing hope that life may be able to return to some semblance of normality early next year, a new study suggests there is a ‘high level’ of vaccine resistance in the Australian community.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are showing hope that they may soon be able to start rolling out in emergency markets such as the United States and United Kingdom. But many people are yet to be convinced about the need to get a vaccine when one is available, according to the Australian National University (ANU).

While 58.5 per cent of Australians said they would definitely get the vaccine when it is available, the ANU research showed that 6 per cent of the population definitely wouldn’t get it and a further 7 per cent said they probably wouldn’t get it.

Last week, in an article suggesting older people should be among the first group to receive vaccinations, YourLifeChoices members were divided on their willingness to receive vaccinations.

 “Of course, I will get vaccinated just as soon as I qualify. Vaccination gives us back our freedom and our family,” reader Rosret wrote.

“Yes, definitely get the older people vaccinated first as they are most at risk, and often have pre-existing medical conditions which lower their immune system. I’m in good health and don’t plan on getting vaccinated but rather focus on staying healthy,” wrote Frankly.

“The vaccine should be given to those people who travel, work or socialise a lot because it is those people transmitting it around. Older people are not the culprit here, they probably got the virus off the above. I have a lot of older clients and they said they don’t want the vaccine,” Jan explained.

Nomad1946 said frontline workers should be first in line for the vaccine and said, “vaccination should be compulsory no ‘outs’ unless medical advice is against”.

Easy Rider took the opposite view: “I don’t care who gets it first as long as they volunteer to have it. It should NEVER be forced upon anyone. There is nothing more personal or intrusive than to have a concoction of foreign substances forcibly injected into an individual’s body.”

The ANU research was based on a survey of 2000 respondents and examined the demographic, political and social attitudes to a COVID vaccine.

Study co-author Associate Professor Ben Edwards explained that there was a divide on vaccine opinions based on education and income.

“Overall, there are significant levels of vaccine hesitancy or resistance across Australian society,” Assoc. Prof. Edwards said.

“We found females, those living in disadvantaged areas, those who reported that risks of COVID-19 were overstated, and those who had more populist views and higher levels of religiosity were more likely to be hesitant or resistant to a vaccine.

“In contrast, those who had higher levels of household income, those who had higher levels of social distancing, who downloaded the COVID-Safe App, who had more confidence in their state or territory government or confidence in their hospitals, or were more supportive of migration were more likely to intend to get vaccinated.”

The ANU research also found that older Australians (those aged 55–64, 65–74 and those over 75) were more likely to get the vaccine compared to other younger age groups.

Those with an undergraduate or postgraduate university degree were more likely to show an intention to be vaccinated when one was available.

“To open up our society, economy and community fully again, we need to develop a vaccine and get it out to the population as quickly as possible,” study co-author Professor Nicholas Biddle said.

“Our findings show vaccine hesitancy, which accounts for a significant proportion of the population, may be addressed by public health messaging.

“But for a significant minority of the population with strongly held beliefs, alternative policy measures may well be needed to achieve sufficient vaccination coverage to end the pandemic.”  

How do you feel about receiving a vaccination? Will you happily join the queue to return to normal? Or are you hesitant about the process?

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Written by Ben

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