Vaccine willingness growing


More Australians now plan to be vaccinated when a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available… and we look at why others won’t

Now 79% of Australians say they would be willing to be vaccinated when a new COVID-19 vaccine becomes publicly available, according to Roy Morgan research.

This proportion is up 2% since mid-January, found a special Roy Morgan survey about the COVID-19 vaccine – part of the Roy Morgan COVID-19 program of research monitoring Australians’ responses to COVID-19 related issues during the global pandemic.

The Federal Government is set to begin rolling out vaccinations to more vulnerable sectors of the Australian community from mid-February in only a few weeks.

Earlier this week it announced that the TGA had provisionally approved the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Community pharmacists are not expected to be part of the initial phase of the rollout, but will come on board from Phase 2a.

Roy Morgan Research notes that although willingness to get a COVID-19 vaccine has increased, it is still well below the support expressed by Australians early in the pandemic. In March/April 2020 87% of Australians agreed they would be willing to be vaccinated.

The survey was conducted with an Australia-wide cross-section of 1,648 Australians aged 18+ on Wednesday January 20 – Thursday January 21, 2021.

Men (85%) are increasingly more likely than women (73%) to say they’ll be vaccinated when a Coronavirus vaccine is publicly available

Now 85% (up 4% points from a week ago) of Australian men say they’ll be vaccinated when a coronavirus vaccine becomes available while an unchanged 73% of women are also willing to be vaccinated.

The increase in willingness to take the vaccine comes from ALP supporters (up 5% to 82%) and Greens supporters (up 1% to 82%) with fewer L-NP supporters willing to be vaccinated (down 1% to 77%).

Willingness to be vaccinated is highest amongst older Australians with 90% (up 10%) of people aged 65+ saying they would be willing to be vaccinated compared to 81% (up 2%) of 50-64 year olds, 78% (up 1%) of those under 35 and 69% (down 3%) of 35-49 year olds.

The only age group to decline in willingness to be vaccinated over the last week is those people aged 35-49 who are most likely to have young families with younger children at pre-school or primary school.

Respondents who answered whether they would be willing to take, or not take, the coronavirus vaccine were then asked why they had that view.

The concerns of Australians who aren’t willing to get a COVID-19 vaccine mostly revolve around the worry that untested vaccines rushed through the approvals process will be unsafe and potentially put their health in danger – whether personally or more generally

For those who said they would not be willing to take the vaccine, the issue of the vaccines being rushed came up repeatedly as well as questions about the lack of testing and lack of research into potential side-effects.

These concerns coalesced around whether the vaccines would actually be safe and in particular for those with a special case risk factor that would add to the danger.

Some respondents referred to already cited side-effects while some aren’t afraid of catching COVID-19 and say they’d be more willing to catch COVID-19 than take an unproven vaccine to prevent it.

There are also a few respondents who raised the issue of the vaccine not actually stopping the spread of the virus – merely the severity of the infection.

A leading concern that came through in people’s own words is that they feel these new COVID-19 vaccines are untested and have been rushed through the approvals process.

Closely related to feelings about the lack of testing and speedy approvals process are concerns many people have about their own personal safety due to an extra medical issue or something specific to their personal health profile at this time – including being pregnant.

There are many people worried about the unknown side-effects of the vaccines in a more general sense and whether the vaccine is in fact safe for most people to be taking. Some respondents mentioned alleged problems overseas for people who have taken one or other of the vaccines.

“People who say they would be willing to get the vaccine tend to fall into two groups,” said Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine.

“There are people who would get the vaccine for their own health and to protect the health of their family members and friends, as well as be able to travel widely again and visit friends and family.

“There are also many that consider getting the COVID-19 as a civic duty to uphold public health and return society more broadly back to a sense of normality. There is a wide crossover between the two groups but these two distinct themes dominate the responses.

“All-in-all the clear majority of Australians are willing to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes publicly available however for the 21% of Australians that say they won’t get the vaccine these results provide a clear roadmap for what concerns they have that need to be placated.”

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