Healthcare workers should be first to receive COVID-19 vaccine, survey finds

Frontline healthcare workers should be the first in line to receive a COVID-19 vaccine when one becomes available, according to a new survey of thousands of Australians.

Undertaken by the Australian National University (ANU), the survey of more than 3,000 Australians revealed respondents believe paramedics should get access to the COVID-19 jab first once developed, followed by aged and disabled carers, registered nurses, nursing support workers and GPs.

Primary school teachers, police officers and child care workers were the next highest group of professionals the public believes should be among the first to receive the vaccine.

The report’s co-author, Professor Nicholas Biddle, from the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods, said the study was the first test of the relative weight Australians place on different individuals’ characteristics in terms of who should receive the vaccine.

The survey also examined how respondents’ characteristics influenced their decisions.

“The world is waiting with bated breath for a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19. If and when it does become available, a decision will need to be made about how it will be distributed and what criteria will be used to identify who receives the vaccine first,” Professor Biddle said.

“Such a decision will inevitably take into account the health and economic benefits of some groups receiving it ahead of others.

“Our findings show that Australians think that people who are working on the frontline of healthcare need to be vaccinated first.

“This makes perfect sense when you consider where most of our second wave of COVID-19 infections have come from and that these are the professionals who are directly dealing with the aftermath of this pandemic on a daily basis.”

The survey also examined who Australians thought should receive a vaccine based on a range of other demographics, including gender, age, and health and employment status.

“Unsurprisingly, Australians think those with pre-existing health conditions should have the highest priority when it comes to a vaccine,” co-author Professor Matthew Gray said.

The survey forms part of the COVID monitoring program led by the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods, with the research supported by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and survey conducted by the Social Research Centre.

Read the full report here

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