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With more than half of Australians currently in lockdown to contain Delta outbreaks, and cases rising across New South Wales and Victoria, it is clear that vaccination is our only way out.
So, it’s good news that vaccination uptake is growing, and hesitancy is declining.
At 5 September, 63% of Australians aged 16 and over had received at least one dose of a vaccine, and 38% were fully vaccinated. While this uptake reflects greater supply of vaccines, the events of recent months have also seen a decline in the share of Australians who are unsure about getting the jab.
The Melbourne Institute’s vaccine hesitancy tracker provides fortnightly data on the proportion of Australians who are not willing to be vaccinated, or not sure.
As at 20 August, the proportion of the national population who were ‘hesitant’ was 20% (with 12% not willing, and 8% unsure). This suggests that achieving an 80% vaccination rate could well be within reach.
Hearteningly, those previously unsure have been coming around. Since April – around the time of new ATAGI advice on the possible side effects of AstraZeneca – the proportion of Australians unsure has almost halved, while the share of Australians unwilling to get the jab has also declined slightly.
Chart 1: Proportion of adult Australians who are vaccine hesitant
Likely reflecting the promise of more freedoms for the double-jabbed and therefore fully vaccinated, hesitancy rates are lower in locked-down New South Wales (18%) and Victoria (20.2%) than in less restricted states of Western Australia (22.4%), Queensland (22.8%) and South Australia (23%).
Looking ahead, it is up to young people to continue the momentum.
If the current rate of vaccination continues, Australia could see 80% of the population aged 16+ fully vaccinated by mid-November. But this will rely on the uptake of vaccination among young people.
While 63% of Australian adults have received one dose, this proportion falls to 43% for 16-39 year-olds. This group, who have received changing advice around the albeit very small risks of the one vaccine type, are also the most hesitant.
Chart 2: Hesitancy by age group
Access to Pfizer for the 18-39 year old cohort in New South Wales and Victoria could go some way in accelerating progress and reducing hesitancy.
But it’s also worth understanding the different pandemic experiences within this broad group of under-40s. The 2021 Deloitte Millennial Survey provides insight into millennials and Gen Zs’ COVID-19 experiences, based on a survey of 14,600 millennials (born 1983-94) and 8,200 Gen Zs (born 1995-03) from 45 countries around the world.
The majority of Australian millennials (71%) and Gen Zs (65%) said they had adhered to their governments’ public health guidelines either fairly or very seriously throughout the pandemic, though to a slightly less extent than the global average.
Reflecting on the path ahead, 64% of millennials and 66% of Gen Zs said that the pandemic had highlighted new issues for them, and made them more sympathetic toward the needs of others. It’s this sentiment that could drive vaccination rates among those who have a lower-risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms, and which is reflected in increasing concerns about vaccine equity.
David is a macro economist with extensive experience in applied economic and quantitative analysis of the Australian economy, along with considerable experience in labor market analysis. David is a regular commentator on macroeconomic trends, and prepares a weekly economic briefing newsletter.