Overall, hesitancy is decreasing.
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Mixed messaging from the Federal Government and the media contributed to vaccine hesitancy among Australians, says the Australian Medical Association, but new data confirms vaccine hesitancy is decreasing.
In a June interview with the ABC, AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the government’s messaging throughout the vaccine rollout “has really been mixed”.
“I think Australians don't know which way is up when it comes to the vaccine program,” he said.
At the time of the ABC interview, data from the Melbourne Institute showed vaccine hesitancy in Australia was peaking, with 35.5 per cent of the adult population reluctant to get the jab.
According to current estimations, that number has more than halved, falling to 15 per cent as of September 23.
Monash University student Sam MacFarlane opted to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine when he was ineligible for Pfizer.
Mr Macfarlane, 21, said the media, his family and repeated lockdowns played a role in his decision to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“The media kind of pushing vaccines on people gave me a bit of FOMO,” Mr McFarlane said.
Frustrated with lockdowns, Mr Macfarlane said getting vaccinated is the only way out.
Mr Macfarlane said his main concern when getting the vaccine was being able to see his friends and do normal things.
“The faster I can do that and be protected is my main concern,” he said.
While many young individuals like Mr McFarlane have been enthusiastic to roll up their sleeves for the jab, 18-44-year-olds remain the most vaccine hesitant age group. According to the Melbourne Institute, 18.2 per cent of Australians within that age group are either unwilling to get the vaccine or are unsure.
University of Melbourne student Corey Leonard said a number of factors led to his decision to choose the Pfizer vaccine.
“I think the media did play a bit of a role. No one really likes to know the numbers of what could happen to you, and my family definitely had an impact,” Mr Leonard said.
“My mum didn’t want me to get AstraZeneca after she found out the results of some of them because there’s a little bit of history of blood clotting in my family.”
Mr Leonard, 21, said he was booking in to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, but decided not to book when he became eligible for Pfizer.
“At the time when I thought about booking it was probably a day before [the announcement], and then the day of booking Scott Morrison announced that he’d be opening [Pfizer] to the rest of us,” Mr Leonard said.
“I was ready to book, and I was ready to go. Getting AstraZeneca wasn’t a huge issue for me.”
National Centre for Antimicrobial Stewardship Director, Professor Karin Thursky, said the public’s choice in vaccines are “largely driven by the national guidelines, the ATAGI guidelines”.
“Young people couldn’t get vaccines for ages, it’s only recently that they’ve started opening up vaccines for the under forties,” she said.
Professor Thursky said all available vaccines are effective in reducing hospitalisation and death.
“Whether it’s AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax or Johnson, they’re all incredibly effective and they can reduce hospitalisation,” she said.
“The current data shows even one shot will reduce hospitalisation by 85 per cent.”
Healthcare professionals, and most young people agree there is no superior vaccine.
“What we’re doing is shifting a disease from something where ten per cent of people will end up in hospital to a very small percentage,” Professor Thursky said.
“Dan [Andrews] says the best one you can get is the one you can get right now,” Mr Leonard said.
Regardless of what vaccine people get, the State Government warns Victorians may need at least two doses of any approved vaccine to go to work, enjoy public events, and see their friends and family.
If you are concerned about receiving a vaccination for COVID-19, talk to your GP or visit health.org.au.