Australians increasingly hesitant to receive COVID-19 vaccines: survey

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CANBERRA, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) — Resistance to COVID-19 vaccines is rising among Australians as the beginning of the rollout nears, a survey has found.

The survey, which was published by Australian National University (ANU) researchers on Friday, found that 31.9 percent of Australians became less willing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine between August and January while 9.9 percent became more willing.

Asked if they would volunteer for a free vaccine deemed safe and effective by authorities, 21.7 percent of almost 4,000 respondents said they would “probably” or “definitely” not compared to 12.7 percent in August.

The proportion of respondents who said they would “definitely” get vaccinated fell from 58.5 percent in August to 43.7 percent in January.

It comes as Australia prepares to begin administering vaccines to priority groups on Monday.

“Worryingly, as we get closer to administering a vaccine, more Australians have cooled on the idea of getting one,” Nicholas Biddle, the co-author of the study, said in a statement on Friday.

“The challenge now is to work out why and how we can address that.”

The study recommended that public information campaigns “remind people of the dangers of COVID-19, but importantly highlight the potential for a much better 2022” if people get vaccinated.

The survey found that hesitancy to get vaccinated increased among females, indigenous Australians and non-English speakers.

“These population groups are arguably the most urgent focus of any public health campaigns to improve willingness,” Biddle said.

As of Thursday afternoon, there had been 28,912 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia, and the numbers of locally and overseas acquired cases in the last 24 hours were zero and one respectively, according to the latest figures updated on Thursday evening from the Department of Health. Enditem

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