Australians believe that ECEC workers should be among the first to get COVID-19 vaccine
The Sector > Quality > In The Field > Australians believe that ECEC workers should be among the first to get COVID-19 vaccine

Australians believe that ECEC workers should be among the first to get COVID-19 vaccine

by Freya Lucas

September 28, 2020

Australians believe those working in early childhood education and care (ECEC) should be amongst the first occupational groups to be vaccinated against COVID-19 once a vaccine has been created, new research from the Australian National University (ANU) has found.  


The survey of more than 3,000 Australians used an experimental approach to identify who Australians think should be the first groups to receive an effective vaccine once developed, with those working in ECEC making the “top ten” alongside paramedics, those who care for the aged or disabled, registered nurses, nursing support workers, doctors, and primary school teachers. 


Report 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 put on different individuals’ characteristics in terms of who should receive a vaccine. The survey also examined how respondents’ characteristics influenced their decisions.   


While the world waits for a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19, Professor Biddle says consideration, should a vaccine become available, needs to be given to how it will be distributed and what criteria will be used to identify who receives the vaccine first.


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


Findings show that Australians think that people who are working on the frontline of healthcare need to be vaccinated first, something he said “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, 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. “This was the group with the highest support among respondents.”


“Females are very slightly preferred over males and older Australians are slightly preferred over younger Australians,” he continued.


The researchers highlighted that there was no difference between whether or not Australians think individuals with Asian names should receive the vaccine first compared to people with Anglo-Celtic names.


“This is important because indications of at least some increase in anti-Asian views has not translated into a view that people with an Asian name should be given lower priority in access to a COVID-19 vaccine,” Professor Gray said.


The survey forms part of the COVID monitoring program led by the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods. The research was supported by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the survey was conducted by the Social Research Centre and may be accessed here.

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