Study finds "high level" of COVID vaccine resistance

20 Nov 2020

Overall, there are significant levels of vaccine hesitancy or resistance across Australian society

Almost three-in-five Australians (58.5 per cent) say they will definitely get a COVID vaccine once it is available, new analysis from The Australian National University (ANU) shows.

But six per cent of the population say they definitely won't, with another seven per cent of Australians saying they will probably not get the vaccine.

The analysis, led by the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods, examined COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and resistance and builds on a survey of 3,000 adult Australians.

It's the first representative longitudinal survey with over 2,000 respondents that examines the demographic, political and social attitudes to a COVID vaccine.

Study co-author, Associate Professor Ben Edwards, said the analysis revealed which groups in Australia were less and more likely to "get the jab" once available.

"Overall, there are significant levels of vaccine hesitancy or resistance across Australian society," Associate Professor 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."

According to the findings, females were more likely to be hesitant and resistant to a vaccine, while older people (55-64, 65-74 and those over 75 years) were more likely to get it compared to other age groups.

Compared to Australians with a Year 12 qualification only, those with an undergraduate or postgraduate university degree were less likely to be resistant or hesitant to a vaccine and more likely to intend to be vaccinated.

The analysis also found 28.7 per cent, almost three-in-10 Australians, were likely to get a vaccine but were still not certain.

"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."  

The analysis forms part of the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods COVID-19 monitoring program and is available online. Funding for the research was provided by the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare.  


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