- A National Seniors survey of 4498 older Australians in early 2021 showed high support for COVID vaccination, especially among older seniors.
- Of those surveyed, 86% said they were likely or very likely to get vaccinated.
- However, many people expressed hesitation, whether they planned to get vaccinated or not.
- Uncertainty about vaccine effectiveness and safety, and distrust of authorities, including government, were key reasons for hesitancy.
National Seniors Australia’s latest research report 'Older Australians’ COVID-19 vaccination likelihood and sentiment” shows older Australians’ reasons for getting COVID vaccinations, and their reasons for hesitating.
Vaccination sentiments expressed by seniors showed that these decisions are complex and potentially at risk when advice, circumstances and perceived risks are constantly changing.
The key sentiments included:
- Fear of side-effects
- Complacency about need for vaccination
- Rapidly changing and conflicting information.
“With the timing for boosters changing and Omicron presenting unknown challenges, positive vaccination-related decisions are not a foregone conclusion. This is no time for complacency,” said National Seniors CEO Professor John McCallum.
In short many of the issues causing vaccine hesitancy early in early 2021 are still potential sources of hesitancy about boosters and now, newer vaccines.
The report also shows that GPs and other health professionals play a critical role in supporting seniors’ vaccine decisions and actions.
“In the light of this finding, we are concerned that the Pharmacy Guild has reported today a drop in the numbers of pharmacies and GPs providing booster vaccinations,” Professor McCallum said.
Older people are particularly vulnerable to severe illness and death from the virus if their protection due to vaccination wanes over time. Clear and honest information, equal access to vaccines of choice and communication strategies tailored to seniors’ needs are all essential to ensure older people stay protected from COVID-19.
“They cannot be taken for granted,” said National Seniors CEO, Professor McCallum.