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Vaccine hesitancy grows

THERE has been a “substantial increase” in COVID-19 vaccine resistance and hesitancy among Australians, according to data from The Australian National University (ANU).

The survey of more than 3500 Australians found a large decline in the number of people who were likely to get the vaccine once it was available.

It was also the only longitudinal study available tracking individuals from prior to the pandemic.

Western District Health Service (WDHS) chief executive, Rohan Fitzgerald said he understood some community members might feel hesitant about getting a COVID vaccine.

He said it was important for people to take an active interest in their healthcare and clearly understood how the vaccines work.

“Now that millions of people are vaccinated across the globe, compared with the thousands who were involved in early studies, it is becoming clearer that the COVID vaccines are safe and effective,” he said.

“This should give rise to greater confidence for those who will get the first shots of the vaccine in the coming weeks.

“There’s a wealth of information out there on official websites and in a number of peer reviewed articles available online.

“We also have information and links on our website at wdhs.net for more local details, as the regional vaccination plan evolves.”

According to the study, more than one-in-five of survey recipients said in January, they ‘probably’ or ‘definitely will not’ get a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.

Study co-author, Nicholas Biddle said this was a “large” and “significant” increase from the 12.7 per cent of Australians who said the same thing in August 2020 when vaccines were still being developed and trialled.

“We also found more than three-in-10 Australians, some 31.9 per cent, became less willing to get a vaccine between August 2020 and January 2021,” she said.

“In contrast, less than one-in-10 Australians, 9.9 per cent, became more willing to get vaccinated.”

Royal Melbourne Hospital associate professor, Joe Sasadeusz has been advising WDHS on its COVID-19 preparations and said vaccine hesitancy was growing in the community.

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