Australia

Vaccine hesitancy grows as rollout nears

As the nation’s coronavirus vaccine rollout nears, new analysis shows resistance and hesitancy to the jab has increased.

The Australian National University on Friday released a survey of more than 3500 people, which tracked their opinions towards vaccinations from before the coronavirus pandemic.

It has found a large decline in the number of people who are likely to get the vaccine once it is available.

In January, about 20 per cent of those surveyed said they probably or definitely would not get a coronavirus vaccine once health officials said a safe and effective one was available.

In August last year about 12 per cent of Australians felt that way.

Three in 10 people became less willing to get a vaccine between August last year and January.

Only one in 10 became more willing.

Females, Indigenous Australians, people who speak a language other than English at home and those who have not completed Year 12 became less willing to get the jab.

“These population groups are arguably the most urgent focus of any public health campaigns to improve willingness,” study co-author Nicholas Biddle said

It comes as the Morrison government urges Australians to link their myGov and Medicare online accounts so they can easily obtain proof of their coronavirus vaccination.

Records on the Australian Immunisation Register will form the basis of the vaccination certificate all Australians, including visa holders, will be able to use.

The nation’s vaccine rollout will begin on Monday, with states and territories focusing on quarantine hotel staff and frontline health workers.

There will be 16 Pfizer vaccine hubs in major cities where those workers will be vaccinated as part of the initial phase.

Thousands of aged care residents across more than 190 towns and suburbs will also be vaccinated against coronavirus in the first week of jabs.

About 240 nursing homes will be included for the initial week of vaccinations.

Health workers will be dispatched to vaccinate all aged care and disability residents over the next six weeks.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the target was for 60,000 doses to be administered in the first week.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, which the majority of the population will receive, is due to be ready for use in early March.

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