Vaccine rollout not going well, say most Australians

Almost two-thirds of adult Australians, 64 per cent, think the Government’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout is not being handled well, a study from The Australian National University (ANU) shows.

The study also found there’s been a small decline in the proportion of people who would not take a safe and effective vaccine, though many Australians remain highly concerned about potential side effects.

The study, led by the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods, also found 33 per cent of Australians thought the way vaccines were being rolled out was very fair, alongside 53 per cent who said it was somewhat fair.

“These findings are extremely important as the Government attempts to reconcile public sentiment and confidence in its vaccine program at a time when there are questions about how fast it is being delivered across our community,” study co-author Professor Biddle said.

Professor Nicholas Biddle noted the study’s findings showed clear divisions in people’s attitudes to the vaccine rollout based on political views.

“Those who had said they would vote for a party grouping other than the Coalition were less likely to think the process was going well,” Professor Biddle said. “While still under half of the population, 45.3 per cent of those who said they would vote for the Coalition said the vaccine process was going well.

“This declines to 29.9 per cent among Australians who said they would have voted Labor, 27 per cent of those who said they would have voted for the Greens, 33.3 per cent of those who would have voted for an ‘other’ party, and 25 per cent of those who did not know who they would vote for.”

Responses in Australia are very different to responses in the US.

Americans were far more likely than Australians to think the vaccination process was going very well or somewhat well than in Australia, but Americans were less likely to think the process was very fair.

In more positive news, the study found there has been an increase in the number of Australians who say they would get a ‘safe and effective vaccine’ between January and April 2021.

“When we asked a similar question in January, only 43.7 per cent of Australians said they would definitely get a safe vaccine. This jumped to 54.7 per cent in April,” Professor Biddle said.

“However, this number is still lower compared to August 2020 when we first asked the question, with 58.5 per cent of Australians saying they’d get a safe vaccine at that point in time.

“Even so, it would appear that willingness to receive a hypothetical safe and effective vaccine has stayed quite high.”

The study shows there is a very large proportion of Australians who are concerned about possible side effects if they do take a current vaccine. Less than one-in-five, 18.4 per cent, weren’t concerned about side effects.

In contrast, 39.5 per cent of Australians were slightly concerned, 20.3 per cent were moderately concerned, and 21.8 per cent were very concerned. Women and people who speak a language other than English were the two groups most concerned about potential side effects.

Concerns about side effects were the main reason Australians said they wouldn’t take a hypothetical vaccine, accounting for 63 per cent of people who don’t want the shot.

“On top of that, 50.4 per cent of people who said they wouldn’t take a vaccine said their decision was based on recent news about the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clotting,” Professor Biddle said.

“In the same group, 31.6 per cent said they didn’t know if the vaccine would work, 26.7 said they didn’t trust COVID vaccines and 18.9 per cent said they didn’t trust the government.”

The study is also the first in Australia to measure the determinants of vaccination rates, estimating that 9.3 per cent of adults had been vaccinated. It was led by the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods as part of its ongoing COVID-19 monitoring program with data collected by the Social Research Centre.

Read the full study online.

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