Australians' willingness to get a COVID-19 vaccine has dramatically decreased, with more than one in five now contemplating refusing the jab, even knowing it's safe.
Researchers at the Australian National University have, for the past 12 months, been tracking a cohort of more than 3500 Australians and their attitudes to the COVID-19 vaccines.
Between August last year and January this year, more than three in 10 in the cohort became less willing to get the jab. A little more than 8 per cent are resolute that they'll refuse it.
Professor Nicholas Biddle co-authored the study.
"Worryingly, as we get closer to administering a vaccine more Australians have cooled on the idea of getting one," he said.
"The challenge now is to work out why and how we can address that."
Professor Biddle said there were four groups of people who had become less willing to get the vaccine: women, Aboriginal people, people who spoke a language other than English at home, and people who hadn't completed Year 12.
He said some people in the study who were hesitant about the vaccine thought that too much was being made of COVID-19, while others had little hope for the next 12 months, and little faith in hospitals.
"Clearly our leaders, policymakers and health experts need to work out why more Australians are unlikely to get a vaccine, particularly as it is about to be administered across the country," Professor Biddle said.
"While not a magic bullet, a vaccine and its successful delivery across our society is absolutely crucial to Australia's COVID recovery."
In August 2020, less than 13 per cent of the study cohort said they would probably or definitely refuse a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.
By January this year, that number rose to more than 20 per cent.
Only about 10 per cent of the study participants became more willing to get the COVID-19 jab between August last year and January this year.
The study said that, as of January, about 44 per cent of the cohort said they would definitely get a COVID-19 vaccine.