Australians less likely to take a COVID-19 vaccine if they’re unhappy with the government

Australians who are less satisfied with the government are less willing to be vaccinated against COVID-19, according to new research from the Melbourne Institute: Applied Economic & Social Research at the University of Melbourne.

According to the latest Taking the Pulse of the Nation survey, only 3 in 4 Australians are willing to be vaccinated, should a vaccine be successfully developed. It also found that satisfaction with the government has fallen to its lowest level since April.

Led by the Melbourne Institute, the fornightly survey tracks changes in the economic and social wellbeing of Australians. The 20th wave of the survey was conducted from 5 – 10 October.

A Research Insight paper based on the survey found that people who are most satisfied with the government are 14-percentage points more likely to take a vaccine for COVID-19.

Professor Ragan Petrie, one of the authors of the research, said it is important to understand different attitudes towards a potential vaccine.

“The Federal Budget also assumed that the economy will recover on the back of a vaccine being developed and adopted widely. This cannot be assumed. Government should take into account the large diversity in Australian society when designing policies and approaches to encourage uptake of a COVID-19 vaccine,” Professor Petrie said.

People over 65 and those with a university degree are also much more likely to be vaccinated. In urban Victoria, satisfaction with the government is even more important for willingness to be vaccinated.

Nation-wide, only 55% of Australians are satisfied with government performance in October, compared to 57% in September. Satisfaction is highest in WA (69%) and lowest in NSW (52%).

The survey also found over a third of Australians would prefer to stay home to minimise their risk of contracting COVID-19. Only 16% of respondents said they would be willing to undertake all normal activities and accept a higher risk of infection, 42% said they would undertake some activities and accept some restrictions to reduce the risk, while 37% said they would prefer to stay home as much as possible.

The number of people who are limiting their activities outside the home most of the time has fallen, but overall more people are still limiting their activities at least some of the time.

Professor Guay Lim, lead author of the survey report, said people’s caution towards activities outside the home was a worrying sign.

“Recovery requires more engagement with economic and social activities. This cautious attitude, evident across the ages is not encouraging for promoting more activity, especially for the revival of, the hospitality sector, for example,” Professor Lim said.

Interact with the results of the Taking the Pulse of the Nation survey on our tracker page.