Australians support mandatory COVID vaccine

10 May 2021 | 3 mins

A study by The University of Western Australia and Sydney University has found three-quarters of Australians support a mandatory COVID vaccination for work, study, and travel.

Mandatory vaccination is where vaccination is required if people choose to partake in particular activities or access specific entitlements, as opposed to compulsory vaccination which would require everyone to be vaccinated.

The study, published in Politics, coincides with the recent announcement of an Australia and New Zealand travel bubble, with governments negotiating what measures may be needed to keep people safe.

The researchers surveyed 1200 people last year and results indicate more Australians are advocates for mandatory vaccination (73 per cent) compared to how many would feel comfortable getting the vaccine themselves (66 per cent).

"People seem to understand the risks associated with particular activities, and the potential usefulness of mandates to continue to keep spread rates of COVID in Australia low"

Dr Katie Attwell

Lead researcher Dr Katie Attwell from UWA’s School of Social Sciences said the results also showed 66 per cent of people would have the vaccination voluntarily, 25 per cent were unsure about having it and 70 per cent were concerned that the vaccines may have been developed too quickly. Just nine per cent indicated they would not have the vaccine. It is important these statistics are considered in the context of other studies, including those conducted more recently.

Until now, less has been known about how attitudes towards COVID-19 vaccines and mandates link to political preferences. The study found voters for major political parties, the Liberal, National and Labor parties, were significantly more likely to say yes to a vaccine than voters for minor parties, and the elderly and those more affluent were also more likely to say yes to a vaccine. 

 “It’s clear from the study that there is wide political support for mandatory vaccination, with the exception of some small pockets against it, and these would appear to link to dissatisfaction with the parties that form government,” Dr Attwell said.

“People seem to understand the risks associated with particular activities, and the potential usefulness of mandates to continue to keep spread rates of COVID in Australia low."

Co-author Associate Professor David Smith, from the University of Sydney’s Department of Government and International Relations, said since the study had been completed, many other countries had introduced policies that required vaccination in order to participate in certain activities.

“The findings of this study are important if Australia is to reach a high level of protection, known as herd immunity,” Associate Professor Smith said.

“If we can’t reach a high level of vaccination, politicians and the public may see mandatory vaccination as justified to keep borders and services open so we can continue to enjoy our quality of life.”

Media references

Jess Reid, UWA Media & PR Adviser, 08 6488 6876

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