Roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccination in Australia has been slower than originally planned. Problems with supply, distribution and concerns over clotting side-effects have been well-documented in recent weeks.
As of today, those over 50 years are eligible to be vaccinated as phase 2A begins. The big question is, will they be?
Last month, Potentiate ran a national poll via the TEG Insights omnibus, asking people where they stand on the question of vaccination. The same question was repeated this month, to track how attitudes are shifting and to help monitor the uptake.
The results are alarming.
Over the last month, the proportion of people saying they do not intend to be vaccinated at any time has increased by 4% to 16%.
Over the same period of time, those ‘hoping to be vaccinated in the next 1-3 months’ have declined by 11%. Those who don’t expect to be vaccinated in the next 1-3 months have also increased, by 7%.
Put another way, as of today, almost 2 in 10 people do not intend to be vaccinated.
And there is a growing number of Pessimists, who don’t think they will be vaccinated anytime soon.
If we look at the broader human context, this is perhaps not surprising. With concerns over clotting in the media and the very low levels of COVID currently in Australia, we can assume people are looking at the risk (of getting COVID19 versus getting clots) and the rewards (of being vaccinated) and perhaps deciding the risk does not justify the reward.
The problem for the government is that, according to the US Mayo Clinic, the Herd Immunity Strategy ScoMo is pursuing requires at least 70% of society to be vaccinated. That’s around 7 in every 10 people.
Do the maths. The Government can only afford 3 in 10 not to be vaccinated and our Potentiate survey says about 2 in 10 currently won’t be.
It’s a close call based on these results.
The critical question is whether attitudes against vaccination will grow or whether they will fall. This is the Tipping Point.
Looking at the survey data, those aged 50-54 years also contain the highest number saying ‘I do not intend to get vaccinated at any time’. These people are part of the 50+ age group who, as well as Gen Xers, also include Boomers - the largest demographic in Australia. These groups will be critical in determining whether or not Australia reaches the key milestone of 70% vaccinated.
With so many people either undecided or unlikely to be vaccinated, the government needs to adopt some careful communication strategies to persuade those over 50 to take the jab. Levers such as a vaccination passport; help Australia open the borders; help Australians return home or even help prevent a second wave like we see in India, could all be useful talking points.
Whatever strategy is chosen, now is the time to persuade people, because we are at a Vaccination Tipping Point: It only needs a few more people to shift to the ‘I am not going to get vaccinated’ camp for Herd Immunity to be beyond reach and all the good work Australia has achieved throughout the pandemic to be wasted.
We are running the same survey questions at the end of May so watch this space to see which way the population decides to go.
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