Poll reveals COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy

cartoon syringe and hand saying stop

There’s significant hesitancy around the COVID-19 vaccination among patients, say readers… but there’s also good opportunities for pharmacists to address it

Following comments on previous articles about the COVID-19 vaccination – in which readers said they were seeing higher rates of vaccine hesitancy than usual – the AJP asked what feedback you were getting from your patients.

The result was clear: pharmacy patients do have reservations about the jab.

At the time of writing on Friday, March 19, our poll revealed that 45% of AJP readers (136 people) felt that vaccine hesitancy and/or refusal was much greater in relation to the COVID-19 vaccination, compared to other vaccinations.

Another 30% (92 people) said that they felt such concerns were “somewhat” greater than with older vaccines.

Only 2% (seven people) felt hesitancy/refusal was much lower than with other vaccinations, and another 3% (eight people) somewhat less.

Meanwhile, 9% of readers voted that hesitancy/refusal was similar around COVID than around other vaccines – but that hesitancy and/or refusal is growing across the board. Another 6% said hesitancy/refusal was dropping across the board.

Anthony Tassone, Victorian branch president of the Pharmacy Guild, agreed that pharmacists are already receiving queries from patients about the upcoming COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

Community pharmacies will be involved from the 2A phase, which is tentatively scheduled for May 2021.

Pharmacies which submitted an expression of interest to be involved are expected to receive a response from the Department of Health on Friday, March 19.

Mr Tassone said that this gives pharmacists some time to talk with their patients about the jab.

“There are reports of general practices being inundated with requests for appointments to receive the COVID-19 vaccine from eligible patients, so despite the hesitancy that may be present amongst some in the community there is clearly a strong desire by many to receive it,” he told the AJP.

“Their greatest challenge is being able to meet demand for appointments with available stock. 

“With pharmacy staff being eligible to receive the vaccine as part of Phase 1b—as and when they receive it themselves will likely also further give confidence in speaking about it with patients.

“Whilst there are some in the community potentially hesitant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, the vast majority of Australians are not yet eligible, with more being so from Phase 2a (from May/June).

“This will give some patients more time to see the local experience of patients receiving it that could provide reassurance even though over 17 million patients have already received it overseas.

“Right now, stock availability is the major issue impacting the rollout of program over and above vaccine hesitancy.”

Mr Tassone said that, “Pharmacies look forward to hearing a response to the expressions of interest for the COVID-19 vaccine program… and being able to prepare themselves for providing another choice and access point for the Australian public to get vaccinated and protected.”

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