Booster shot popularity has declined, according to a survey in 2021.
Although 51% of adults have received their booster, the uptake rate has slowed despite increased government advertising.
The survey found that in October of 2021, 71.9% of eligible people were interested in getting a booster shot. This has fallen to 65.4%.
Originally it was thought that the lacklustre response to Covid boosters (the third dose for Australia) was due to a rising anti-vaccine mandate movement. This does not appear to be the case, with the Australian National University, which conducted the survey, saying that it is primarily to do with people losing interest in Covid information.
Nicholas Biddle, who co-authored the survey, explained.
“The findings suggest that booster uptake is not due to active resistance … but rather because people either do not have that much information about the need for a third dose or because they have made a judgement that it is not necessary for them. The experience of the first two doses, particularly side effects, may also have made some reluctant to seek out a third dose.”
In addition to a drop-off in Covid engagement, the survey revealed that the most likely group to withdraw from booster programs are those Australians aged 18 to 24, particularly if they are Indigenous, are financially disadvantaged, or have a lower than average level of education.
This age group have experienced a high rate of Covid transmission, with many having already had Covid with very few side effects.
The average vaccination rate for eligible adults in Australia sits around 94% depending on the state.
“There is a very large proportion of adult Australians who are eligible for a booster but have not yet done so, with many of these individuals likely to have waning immunity from their first two doses.”
‘Fully-vaccinated’ is now defined as two doses and a booster, with states such as Victoria and Western Australia updating their vaccine passport system to reflect the new definition.
The Federal government has secured enough vaccine doses for each person to have more than five Covid shots, including the newly delivered Novavax. Boosters are recommended by the government three months after the second dose.
Mike Toole, an epidemiologist from the Burnet Institute said that he was concerned by the sluggish uptake.
“The messaging around Omicron, that it is mild, has inhibited the uptake of boosters for adults and first and second doses for kids. I think that’s been quite dangerous. The country had 66 deaths on Thursday, 64 on Wednesday, 46 on Tuesday. That’s still a lot of deaths.”
According to the Australian government, the vast majority of cases are still occurring in people aged 50 and under, while the majority of deaths are those aged 80 and over.