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Migrants, refugees more hesitant over COVID-19 vaccines – survey

25 June 20210 comments

Migrants and refugees are more hesitant about getting COVID-19 vaccines and feel less informed than the general population, a new survey has found.

Just two thirds of newly arrived migrants and refugees say they will, or are likely to, get a COVID-19 vaccination and the major barrier is a fear of side effects, the survey found.

A snapshot survey of 200 newly arrived migrants and refugees, commissioned by migrant and refugee settlement agency AMES Australia,  found 67 per cent had or were very likely to get COVID-19 vaccines with 24 per cent unsure and 10 per cent unlikely.

A fear of side effects was the main barrier to getting vaccinated (75 per cent) followed by ‘information seen on the internet’ (12.5 per cent), the survey found. 

This compares with data from an earlier Ipsos poll that shows 72 per cent of all Australians said they were likely to get a vaccine.

The survey of migrants and refugees, all of whom had arrived within the last four years, was commissioned by migrant and refugee settlement agency AMES Australia. It was carried out as Victoria went into a fourth lockdown due to the latest outbreak.

It found that only 48 per cent of respondents thought they had enough information about the benefits of getting a vaccination. Twenty-nine per cent said they did not have enough information and 24 per cent were unsure.

Fifty-two per cent said they had enough information about how to get vaccinated while ten per cent said they did not and 38 per cent were not sure.

When respondents were asked from where they were getting information about COVID-19 vaccinations, 23 per cent said ‘government websites’, another 23 per cent said ‘social media’, 19 per cent said mainstream media and; 18 per cent said ‘other internet sources’. Another 12 per cent cited ‘friends and family’.

An overwhelming number of respondents (81 per cent) said they were confident Victoria would suppress the current outbreak. Ten per cent said they were not confident and another ten per cent were not sure.

Ninety-eight per cent of respondents said they were complying with rules designed to stop the pandemic. Fifty-two per cent said they were confident that things would return to normal while ten per cent said they were not.

Levels of anxiety over the pandemic were evident among the respondents. Ten per cent said they were experiencing a ‘high’ level of anxiety, 14 per cent said it was ‘moderately high’, 52 per cent said it was ‘medium’ and 24 per cent aid it was ‘moderately low’. No respondents described their level of anxiety as ‘low’.

More than half of people surveyed (55 per cent) said they had been financially impacted by the current lockdown while 45 per cent said they hadn’t.

There were high levels of satisfaction with Australia’s overall response to the COVID-19 health crisis with 38 per cent ‘very satisfied’ and 48 per cent ‘moderately satisfied’.

Malaysian migrant Calvin Chia said he was “very keen” to get vaccinated and has already got his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

“I want to get vaccinated as soon as possible so I booked online and had my first dose two weeks ago. I am booked in for my second at the Melbourne Showgrounds on June 24,” Mr Chia said.

“I think it’s important everyone gets vaccinated as soon as they can so we can get back to normal life,” he said.

AMES Australia CEO Cath Scarth said the survey findings showed there was more work to do in communicating the benefits of getting vaccinated to people from diverse communities.

“We need to do more to make people from diverse communities understand that it is in their interest and in everyone’s interest that we all get vaccinated,” Ms Scarth said.

“A worrying finding is where people are getting their information from, with high numbers of people citing social media and internet sources other than the official health agencies.

“We are currently working with government and with other agencies to get appropriate, accessible and trusted messaging out to communities about vaccinations,” she said.