University of Western Australia: Understanding the vaccine hesitant

As vaccination rates rise across the country, attention is turning to those who are yet to be vaccinated against COVID-19 despite the State Government mandating it for many key workers.

Having family and friends who are uncertain about COVID-19 vaccines is contributing to hesitancy among some West Australian adults, according to preliminary findings from the Coronavax study, led by a research team from VaxPolLab at The University of Western Australia and the Wesfarmers Centre of Vaccines and Infectious Diseases at Telethon Kids Institute.

Research leader Associate Professor Katie Attwell, from UWA’s School of Social Sciences, said it was important to understand and listen to people’s concern about the vaccine in order to design public policies that promoted vaccination and helped inspire confidence in those who were still uncertain.

“Western Australia’s vaccination rate is going up but there are still a small minority of people in the community who are waiting or feeling hesitant about the vaccine,” she said.

“With the opening up of the Western Australian border around the corner, it’s important to understand their thoughts and feelings, as well as to help develop resources that demonstrate to people that the vaccines are safe and effective.

“This research is about giving people the opportunity to share their voice and thoughts about the vaccines in a meaningful way.”

As well as people who remain vaccine-hesitant, the study team is also seeking to interview childcare workers, pregnant people and adults (or parents of children) with co-morbidities. The team wants to understand how their experiences of the pandemic and the vaccine rollout, including the WA Government mandate, affect them personally.

“These groups are important, as they represent people who have a unique experience of the pandemic.

“The insight we gather through this work will help shape the strategy for reaching out to different groups in the community to ensure they get the information they need about COVID-19 vaccination.”

Associate Professor Katie Attwell
The study will involve a five-minute pre-screening survey, and a one-on-one, hour-long, recorded interview with an experienced and non-judgmental researcher. All information provided by participants will remain confidential.

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