Nearly a third of Australians now say they probably won't get the COVID-19 jab, with many scared off by extremely rare side-effects

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  • Nearly one in three Australians say it’s unlikely they will receive a COVID-19 vaccine, suggesting vaccine hesitancy has risen in recent months.
  • According to a survey commissioned by the Nine newspapers, vaccine-hesitant Australians are primarily concerned about the exceedingly rare potential side-effects of COVID-19 vaccines.
  • It is “disappointing to see such sentiments,” Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Dr Brett Sutton said.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Nearly one in three Australians say it’s unlikely they will be vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a new survey, suggesting vaccine hesitancy is seeping further into Australian society.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports 29% of surveyed Australians said they were either ‘Not very’ or ‘Not at all’ likely to receive the jab, surpassing the levels of vaccine hesitancy recorded by surveys undertaken in February and September.

Of those who said they were unlikely to receive the vaccine, 50% said they were nervous about potential side-effects.

That stat suggests the federal government’s April recalibration of its AstraZeneca rollout over links to extremely rare blood clotting behaviours — and ineffective reassurances of the vaccine’s overall safety and effectiveness — have dissuaded unvaccinated Australians from seeking the jab.

Respondents could select multiple reasons for their hesitancy. The figures however suggest a basic fear of side-effects has vastly outweighed the material risk of negative health impacts linked to the vaccine.

The next most-likely reason for vaccine hesitancy was a lack of information about the vaccines, at 38%.

The figures also suggest a Catch-22 linking vaccination rates and the reopening of Australia’s international border.

Last week’s federal budget indicated a soft timeline to restart international travel in mid-2022 is contingent on every eligible Australian being offered vaccination by the end of 2021, a goal which will require the rapid acceleration of current vaccination rates.

Yet 32% of vaccine-hesitant Australians said the are waiting for more Australians being vaccinated first, and 21% said they’re in no hurry to book an appointment as borders remain closed.

Those figures give credence to separate poll data, which suggests three out of four Australians want to keep borders shut, even if the entire eligible population is vaccinated.

The results also shed new light on how explicitly anti-vax beliefs have kept Australians from seeking the jab.

Although Australian interest in anti-vax Facebook groups has nearly quadrupled over the past year, just 4% of vaccine-hesitant Australians listed anti-vax sentiments in their reasoning.

Responding to the Sydney Morning Herald report, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Dr Brett Sutton, who has led recent calls for a massive ramping up of vaccination figures, said it was “disappointing to see such sentiments.”

“Low vaccination coverage is the greatest risk to health in Australia today,” he said.

As of Monday, just over 3.1 million individual vaccine doses have been administered in Australia, drastically undershooting Australia’s original and now-scrapped targets.

The Health Department has not released data on how many Australians have received both doses required for full vaccination.

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