- Researchers have examined different types of messaging promoting COVID-19 vaccine boosters.
- The study found non-health benefits, such as being able to travel and socialise, were the most effective.
- Vaccine booster uptake has stalled in Australia, and mandates and restrictions are now largely scrapped.
However, one expert says vaccine accessibility and reminders from health professionals could also be key factors in boosting vaccine uptake.
What did the study find?
Researchers then surveyed the participants on their vaccine beliefs and intentions after viewing the different types of messages. They found the non-health benefits message was most effective, while the personal agency message appeared ineffective.
According to the Department of Health, millions of Australians have not had a COVID-19 booster in the last six months.
The study, released on Saturday, was conducted by the University of Sydney, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, the University of Melbourne, La Trobe University, National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance.
However, there was some evidence that messages emphasising health benefits of COVID-19 vaccine booster doses and the health of the community may increase intention to vaccinate.
“But overall, this suggests some of that messaging might be enough to move the needle a little bit for some people.”
What are the ‘non-health’ benefits of vaccines?
Vaccination status also came with social implications, with some people – particularly those with health complications – hesitant to spend time with anybody who was not vaccinated.
“But it is always important to think about what is happening in a particular context in our society, and simple levers that might be pushed or pulled to encourage people for vaccination and continued vaccination.”
What does this mean for COVID messaging?
Rather, she said accessibility to vaccines was key, with many Australians – such as those living in remote communities – either unable or unaware of how to access vaccines.
According to the latest data, 61.9 per cent of over-65s have not had a COVID-19 booster in the last six months, while 45.9 have not had a flu vaccine this year. Source: SBS News
“Communication about vaccines alone has a very limited effect … you need much more to get people vaccinated,” she said.
“Having access to services, making it easy for people to get vaccines, and explaining those aspects in the messaging, I think, is an important way to continue the vaccination uptake.”
“Keep up that vigilance, because we have diseases around us that vaccines can do a good job of preventing, and it’s also to feel that sense of regret of getting a disease that could have been prevented.”