More than 86 per cent of Victorians in the Optimise Study are now ‘definitely’ intending to be vaccinated or are already vaccinated for COVID-19, with significant increases reported amongst healthcare workers and people aged 35-44 years. This compares to November 2020 when 61 per cent of participants indicated their intention to be vaccinated.
The Optimise Study, a research partnership led by Burnet Institute and Doherty Institute, has followed over 580 participants from key groups in Victoria since mid-2020. This research was undertaken in July 2021.
Key research findings:
- High level of understanding that people require two jabs to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19
- A mixed level of understanding about whether people can catch COVID-19, get sick from the virus and pass the virus on to others after they have been vaccinated
- 73 per cent agreed that vaccines should be required for international travel to and from Australia
- 21 percent were unsure about their children getting the vaccine
- 3 per cent strongly disagreed with mandatory vaccinations in July 2021, down from 6 per cent in March 2021
- 88 per cent of people without children definitely intend to be vaccinated or are already vaccinated, compared to 81 per cent of people with children
- 95 per cent of healthcare workers reported either being already vaccinated or would definitely get vaccinated, up from 40 per cent of healthcare workers in November 2020.
Optimise Study Co-Lead, Burnet Institute Deputy Director, Professor Margaret Hellard AM, said the findings were pleasing, but better messaging was needed to educate people about implications of being vaccinated.
“It’s very encouraging to see intention to be vaccinated increase so significantly since last November, but we observed a mixed level of understanding about whether people can still catch COVID-19 and pass it on to others when vaccinated,” Professor Hellard said.
Burnet Head of Public Health, Professor Mark Stoové said the most significant increases in support for vaccination were among people aged 35-44 years and healthcare workers, of which just 40 per cent said they would ‘definitely’ be vaccinated in November 2020, compared to 95 per cent in July 2021 (includes those who are already vaccinated).
Motivating factors for this increase included the prospect of being able to travel overseas, the desire to protect others and contribute to herd immunity, and outbreaks in participants’ local areas.
“The increase in support for vaccinations shows that communication, as well as concern over COVID-19 outbreaks, is getting the message across to Victorians,” Professor Stoové said.
“With Victorians’ strong desire to get vaccinated, we must ensure we support all members of the community to do so, including reaching out to those facing social and structural disadvantage, and supporting those in casualised work.”
Around 20 per cent of study participants agreed with the notion that they should not need to isolate, quarantine or socially distance after being vaccinated, a figure which Professor Hellard said suggests more needs to be done to ensure people understood what being vaccinated means.
“We observed a mixed level of understanding of whether people can still get infected, sick or transmit COVID-19 after being vaccinated. Participants in the Community Engagement Group noted there was an ongoing need to provide greater clarity about the impact of the vaccination,” Professor Hellard said.
“As brilliant as COVID-19 vaccines are, they aren’t perfect, particularly with variants.
“It’s crucial that we communicate to people that once they are vaccinated that it’s not open slather, as we are increasingly seeing from other countries’ experiences that vaccination alone is not the optimal way out of the pandemic.
“This messaging must be clear to everyone, particularly those facing social and structural disadvantage.
“Another important finding was parents being uncertain about their children being vaccinated. As vaccines become available for those less than 16 years old, it will be important to have clear communication about the benefits of vaccination in this age group.”
The Optimise Study:
A partnership between Burnet Institute and Doherty Institute in collaboration with University of Melbourne, Swinburne University of Technology, Monash University, La Trobe University, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, the Centre for Ethnicity and Health, and the Health Issues Centre. The Optimise Study aims to better understand how the community is managing and responding to COVID-19 and the measures introduced to stop its spread. It assesses the level of community cooperation to government COVID-19 directions and measure’s the effectiveness of government restrictions while identifying unintended consequences of the restrictions.