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We must record why Australians got vaccinated

21 March 2022

2:00 PM

21 March 2022

2:00 PM

As the war in Ukraine takes over our TV screens and vaccination becomes a memory, there’s an important question we need to ask.

What were the reasons why individual Australians decided to have the Covid shots?

Did people line up to get the jab because they were worried about getting very sick from Covid, or was it because they wanted to do their part in getting to a target vaccination level to get out of lockdown?

Was it because it was mandated for their job, or because they lived with someone in the 80s or 90s and didn’t want to pass on the infection?

Of course, there will be a myriad of reasons why people got vaccinated, and many Australians may have had several reasons for having their shots.

I wanted to find out what these reasons were, so I set out to find out. I am a medical journalist who happened to work as a statistician for eight years. So, with limited resources, my business, Clarity on Health, has produced an anonymous online survey: The Australian Survey of Reasons for Covid Vaccination.

As far as I am aware, no other organisation is trying to collect this information. Yet surely, we need to know! Are all reasons for vaccination fine? Or did some people get vaccinated for reasons that we might worry about? If we don’t record this information, we cannot scrutinise it, discuss what happened, and learn from it.

I believe the government should have collected this information as part of the vaccine roll-out, using a properly-funded and professional arms-length survey organisation.

They have, I contend, a duty to demonstrate that the vaccine roll-out was done in accordance with the Australian Immunisation Handbook which states that to be valid, consent to vaccination, ‘must be given voluntarily in the absence of undue pressure, coercion or manipulation.’

Hence, the survey also aims to determine whether Australians felt any pressure to be vaccinated.

In the pilot version run at the end of last year, some 3,300 people responded that they had taken at least one dose of a Covid vaccine.

The most frequent main reason for having the jab was ‘to keep my job’, with more than half of respondents (58.3 per cent) picking this response.

The second-most common reason selected was ‘to allow me to enter my place of work’, cited as the principal reason for vaccination by 6.2 per cent of respondents.

A Covid related reason popped up as number three, selected by only 4.8 per cent of people: ‘I felt it was important to reduce the spread of Covid in the community.’

Nearly three-quarters of these people who had been vaccinated – almost 2,500 Australians – said they ‘felt extremely pressured to have a Covid vaccination’.

Just 12 per cent of the respondents said they felt no pressure to be vaccinated.

Now, the results of the pilot survey are unlikely to be representative of Australians as a whole, because it was done in a population that was not keen on vaccination.

A new improved survey is now available, and the aim is for this to be circulated as widely as possible so that more representative results can be obtained.

The survey includes two questions about voting behaviour, which respondents can skip if they prefer. The purpose is to see whether people are satisfied or dissatisfied with the Federal government’s vaccination campaign and the data may help clarify how Australians perceive the role of government.

For those who would like to take part, the survey is available at www.clarityonhealth.org until 11.59pm Sydney time on Friday 25th March.

Clare Pain is the editor of Clarity on Health.

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