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Two-thirds of people want to get COVID vaccine from their GP


Morgan Liotta


20/07/2021 3:46:35 PM

The finding comes from a survey that gauged vaccine intentions, concerns and information needs in Victorian priority groups.

Vaccine recording graphic
Personalised vaccine information such as age, gender or existing health conditions influence people’s decisions in getting vaccinated.

Around 66% of respondents to a recent survey wanted to access their COVID vaccine through general practice, a new report produced by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) has found.
 
The study, produced in collaboration with other national universities for the Victorian Government, provides insight into the vaccine intentions, concerns and information needs of Victorians prioritised to receive the vaccine in phases 1a and 1b of the rollout.
 
Using three different research methods, the survey was conducted across March, April and May with Victorian vaccine priority groups − healthcare workers, people aged 70 years or over and people aged 18−69 years with a chronic health condition.
 
MCRI study lead Associate Professor Margie Danchin told newsGP the results display a number of key findings to further guide recommendations to support Australia’s vaccine rollout.
 
‘Results show that intention to get vaccinated is high – over 75% – among nurses, doctors, allied health professionals, and those working in hospitals, community or private practice,’ she said.
 
‘However, only 58% of personal support workers and 66% of those working in residential aged or disability care facilities planned to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
 
‘These findings reflect that many of these providers come from CALD [culturally and linguistically diverse] backgrounds and have questions and concerns about the vaccines that need to be addressed.’
 
According to Associate Professor Danchin, the focus needs to be on helping people to find and access information they can trust.
 
‘People told us that their preferred information sources were from medical organisations, medical experts and scientists, family and friends, and of course their trusted healthcare provider − usually their GP,’ she said.
 
Personalised vaccine information that considered age and gender, as well as any health conditions or medications the person may be taking, would help reduce hesitancy, the respondents stated.
 
They also wanted information about each step of the vaccination process to be provided, from who is eligible, when they can receive the vaccine, booking details, to reminders for second doses.
 
‘Only 27% of both groups felt that they had enough information about five vaccine topics: how they work, their safety, how well they work, their side effects and how they should be delivered − number of doses, time between doses, etcetera,’ Associate Professor Danchin said.
 
‘Of most importance was that when people had enough information about the vaccines, they were nearly seven times more likely to accept a COVID-19 vaccine than those with no or not enough information.
 
‘People want personalised information about risks and benefits of the vaccine, messages from real, trusted people, clear, simple, shareable communication materials and resources for healthcare workers to support the risk and benefit discussions they are having every day with people are needed.’
 
Eighty-four per cent of people aged 18−69 with a chronic health condition and 90% aged 70 or older planned to get vaccinated, with over 75% of both groups trusting the COVID-19 vaccines and their safety, believing they are important for their health and protection of others.
 
The need to get vaccinated in order to travel overseas has been identified as another strong potential motivator.
 
For healthcare providers, recommendations by their professional society and if the vaccine is available at their workplace are also strong motivators; most healthcare workers wanted to get the vaccine at their workplace.
 
Associate Professor Danchin said that clear information around the vaccines’ safety, efficacy and side-effects were the main factors influencing people’s decisions to get vaccinated, especially for people who are unsure or not planning to get the vaccine.
 
‘Up to 60% of people from both groups were concerned about long-term side effects, half were concerned about serious side effects and one-third about common and expected side effects,’ she said.
 
‘Our job now is to communicate clearly about the expected side effects, broad benefits of vaccination, the severity of COVID-19 and vaccine availability.’
 
The people most likely to get vaccinated were older, male, English-speaking, Australian-born and living in metro areas – results which Associate Professor said are trending.
 
‘We have consistently found that younger women, under 40 years, are more hesitant to get the vaccine, and this requires more research,’ she said.
 
‘It may be because many of these women are pregnant, or breastfeeding and have questions around safety or that they are making decisions about childhood vaccination, and are more questioning. We just don’t know yet.’
 
Examining current data available on vaccine hesitancy, RACGP COVID Working Group member Dr Sean Stevens recently told newsGP that GPs are central to supporting their regular patients, but they also need ongoing resources.
 
‘I think GPs are most focused on their own practice and patients and what they can do to encourage them to become vaccinated,’ he said. ‘It’s very difficult to convince people from your local area to get vaccinated if they are not your regular patients.
 
‘What would really help GPs is an understanding of the types of things causing hesitancy in patients.’
 
Healthcare workers want printed information for patients, with training modules to support vaccine discussions with patients, the MCRI survey found. Practical issues also continue to cause frustration among healthcare workers, such as inconsistent supply of vaccines and the burden placed on general practices amid the nation’s rollout.
 
Using information from the study, 11 recommendations were passed to the Victorian Government to support communication and shape decisions around COVID-19 vaccine uptake.
 
While many of the study findings still hold since completion in June, Associate Professor Danchin’s research team are conducting further studies and monitoring existing and emerging data.
 
‘At this stage of Australia’s rollout, we need to continue to build trust through transparency around communication of vaccine risks and benefits,’ she said.
 
‘And any changes in the vaccine recommendations, which can be expected to occur during the pandemic as new data is obtained.’
 
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