Just 64% of Australians will “definitely” get a Covid-19 vaccine while more than one quarter (27%) are unsure, according to government research.
Some 9% of Australians aged over 16 said they will “definitely not” get the vaccine, according to the poll of 4,001 people commissioned by the health department.
The government is confident that achieving full approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration for both vaccines will help support the rollout, and public confidence will improve as vaccines are administered.
But other data sources point to an uptick in vaccine hesitancy. Between August and January the Guardian Essential poll found the proportion of people who said they would “never” be vaccinated rose from 8% to 11%.
In September, the Australian National University found that 5.5% of Australians would definitely not get the vaccine and a further 7.2% would “probably not” – results that are expected to deteriorate when it releases the next phase of its longitudinal research later this week.
According to the health department research, 48% of Australians would choose to get the vaccine as soon as it is available. A total of 71% would choose to do so by October.
The top three motivators for taking the vaccine were to protect oneself from catching Covid, to keep Australia safe from Covid, and to protect the elderly and most vulnerable.
The top three barriers were that long-term side effects are still unknown, that “vaccines have been developed too quickly” and concerns about having an allergic reaction.
Of all the people in the survey, 86% agreed that the Covid vaccines will help protect vulnerable Australians and 79% said they will reduce the risk of our health system being overwhelmed.
Due to low coronavirus case numbers in Australia, the population has little natural immunity and a high vaccination rate will be important to easing restrictions on economic and social life.
The primary aim of the vaccination program is prevention of transmission, serious illness and disease of those who take the vaccine. Although herd immunity is also a goal, experts have warned that variants of Covid-19 may make it less likely to be achieved.