In this guest post, Gareth Mahon – CEO of home care a disability provider The CareSide, shares the results from a recent survey they conducted to understand the views of Australian’s on receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
A new survey by The CareSide found that 69% of Australians plan to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
This is good news for the effort to contain the spread of the virus since it indicates that a significant majority of Australians want the vaccine. The highest proportion of people who said they will get the COVID-19 vaccine was among the elderly, aged 65 and older. In that age group, 76% said they want the shot, and only 6% said they didn’t want it. Eighteen per cent were unsure.
The devastation from the coronavirus has been significantly less in Australia than in much of the world, with fewer than 1000 deaths over the course of the pandemic. However, the vast majority of those deaths – nearly 94% – have been among people aged 70 and older. So it’s unsurprising that this highest-risk age group expressed the greatest desire to get the vaccine to protect against the virus.
Younger Australians surveyed also said they’re very willing to get the shot, with a majority of adults in all age groups saying they definitely plan to get the vaccine. This is good news for the country, since long-term, permanent containment of the virus will likely depend on a high percentage of the population achieving vaccine-induced immunity.
Prior to the approval of vaccines, containment of the pandemic depended on mitigation measures such as social distancing, masks, and lockdowns. In Australia, swift action to close borders and institute lockdowns have made us a global success story. Even now, as vaccines roll out slowly, the country has continued to respond rapidly and decisively to every potential outbreak, with some cities putting brief lockdowns in place in response to a single confirmed case of COVID-19.
Australians Approve of Government Response to Pandemic
These lockdown measures, although usually brief, are harsh compared to the mitigation attempts in many other countries, but Australians aren’t complaining. The CareSide survey also asked what Australians think about the government’s handling of the pandemic. Across all age groups, the response was the same: the government is doing a good job. Overall, 79% of people approved of the national government’s handling of the pandemic.
This, too, is good news, since it’s likely that brief lockdowns and strict contact tracing will need to continue even as vaccination becomes more widespread. Healthcare experts aren’t certain what percentage of vaccination is needed for herd immunity, since that number depends on disease-specific variables that are still unknown, such as how many people are likely to catch COVID from one infected person. Also, those disease-specific numbers may be different for new variants of the virus, some of which may be more contagious, less susceptible to vaccines, and even more deadly than the original.
Right now, it seems that vaccines are effective against all the new strains. But even the most effective vaccines need time to confer immunity: a fully vaccinated person can still catch and transmit the virus for at least 2 weeks after the shot. As long as COVID-19 is spreading globally, behavioural mitigation tactics such as lockdowns will continue to be an essential tool in the fight against the disease.
As a home care provider to elderly Australians, The CareSide has been at the forefront of the effort to mitigate the pandemic, and we conducted this survey to learn more about the challenges our clients and our country face. We play a vital role in providing information, education, and resources for our clients as they make critical healthcare decisions. Knowing that most of our clients are likely to want the vaccine and that they support the government’s lockdown approach to containing potential clusters, will help us as we work to both empower and protect our clients in this changing world.