Locking out the unvaccinated – is there support for vaccine passports?

Crowd gathering pre-pandemic.
The majority of Taking the Pulse of the Nation survey participants agree fully-vaccinated people should be allowed greater freedoms.

Almost 70 per cent of Australians surveyed in the Taking the Pulse of the Nation (TTPN) survey agree that fully vaccinated people should be allowed greater freedoms to access public events without restrictions, however between 16 to 23 per cent disagree with the idea of excluding the unvaccinated from certain activities.

Established in 2020, the TTPN surveys Australians every week to capture information about their financial position, their job security, their attitudes towards government policy and their experiences dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Results are released monthly.

In addition to attitudes towards vaccination passports, the September findings of the survey found that one in four Australians don’t believe that businesses have the right to deny services to the unvaccinated – however these views tend to come from the vaccine hesitant.

Of particular note, is the very high rate of vaccine hesitancy in the Construction and Utilities (35 per cent) and Wholesale Trade, Transport, Postal and Warehousing sectors (29 per cent).

“Navigating a path out of lockdowns for employees, with fewer restrictions for the vaccinated will be challenging and likely will need to be sector-specific.  According to our survey, vaccine hesitancy for employees is on average, about 18 per cent in September (down from about 30 per cent in February), but this ranges from a high 35 per cent in the Construction sector to a low 8 per cent in the Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services sectors,” University of Melbourne Professor Guay Lim, of the Melbourne Institute said.

“This could be of particular concern given the current wave of transmission from the Construction sector, since these workers often work across sites, possibly spreading the virus across regions.”

The Vaccine Hesitancy Tracker, which takes data from the Take the Pulse of the Nation survey fortnightly, shows that hesitancy has fallen across Australia from 20.3 per cent on 20 August to 16.7 per cent on 12 September.

While hesitancy rates continue to fall across all states and territories, the largest fall has been in Victoria from 20.2 per cent to 14.4 per cent in the same time frame.

“Vaccine hesitancy has fallen most among those aged 18 to 44, as well as those aged over 65, but has remained stable among those aged between 45 and 64 years old,” University of Melbourne Professor Anthony Scott said.

“Interestingly, although women tended to be more hesitant than men in the past, currently there are no longer gender differences in hesitancy.”

The data also shows that uptake among Australians aged 18 to 44 year has increased, as the rollout opens up to those groups.