COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and resistance: Correlates in a nationally representative longitudinal survey of the Australian population

COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and resistance: Correlates in a nationally representative longitudinal survey of the Australian population
Author/editor: Edwards, B, Biddle, N, Gray, M & Sollis, K
Year published: 2020

Abstract

High levels of vaccination coverage in populations will be required even with vaccines have high levels of effectiveness to prevent and stop outbreaks of coronavirus. The World Health Organisation has suggested that governments take a proactive response to vaccine hesitancy hotspots based on social and behavioural insights and this paper provides the first representative longitudinal survey of over 3000 participants from Australia that examines the demographic, attitudinal, political and social attitudes and COVID-19 health behavior correlates of vaccine hesitance and resistance to a COVID-19 vaccine. We distinguish between those who may get the vaccine but are not sure (hesitant) from those who will definitely get the vaccine because they are usually a large percentage of the population, and are more likely to be convinced about public health messaging and information about vaccine safety. We find that 59 per cent of Australians say that they will definitely get the vaccine, a further 29 per cent were likely to get the vaccine but are not certain (low levels of hesitancy), 7 per cent will probably not get the vaccine (high levels of hesitancy) and 6 per cent will definitely not get the vaccine (resistant). We find that females, those living in disadvantaged areas, those who reported that risks of COVID-19 was overstated, those who had more populist views and higher levels of religiosity were more likely to be hesitant or resistant while those who had higher levels of household income, those who had higher levels of social distancing, who downloaded the COVID-Safe App, who had more confidence in their state or territory government or confidence in their hospitals, or were more supportive of migration were more likely to intend to get vaccinated. Our findings suggest that vaccine hesitancy, which accounts for a significant proportion of the population can be addressed by public health messaging but that for a significant minority of the population with strongly held beliefs, alternative policy measures may well be needed to achieve sufficient vaccination coverage to end the pandemic.

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