Carrot and stick approach would ‘move the needle’ on WA vaccines

CCIWA Chief Economist

Aaron Morey

As WA lags to become Australia’s slowest-vaccinating state, the latest CCIWA Consumer Confidence Survey identifies the reasons behind our ‘vaccine ambivalence’, and the best measures to fix it.

The survey of WA households shows that of those yet to get a jab; half (55%) still intend to be vaccinated; one in three (33%) are hesitant; and (12%) indicate they won’t get a vaccine.

Of those yet to be jabbed, 63% said they are worried about side effects. Around one quarter (25%) are “sceptics,” either not trusting the government or not trusting vaccines. One in ten (11%) just don’t like needles.

Who are these reluctant Western Australians, and what would change their minds?

  • One in four (25%) respondents aged 40+ have not yet been vaccinated. More than half (54%) of those would reconsider if they couldn’t enter shopping centres, cafes, restaurants, bars and nightclubs. The same proportion (54%) will be swayed by the option of taking the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, which are now available.
  • Two in five (41%) lower-income survey respondents are unvaccinated. Of these, 46% would respond to a financial incentive. This would also sway 57% of middle-income earners.
  • Two in five (40%) high income earners are yet to get a jab. They would be persuaded by exclusion from workplaces, schools, childcare centres and tertiary education (56%), or being unable to travel interstate (55%).
  • Seven in ten (69%) unemployed survey respondents are yet to get vaccinated. They would be swayed by a financial incentive (44%) or being barred from international travel while they remain unvaccinated (41%).
  • Among younger respondents (under 39), 63% intend to be vaccinated while 31% are hesitant. They would respond to exclusion from work, school, childcare and unis (79%) and also to a financial incentive (58%). At the time of this survey, this cohort could not yet access vaccination.

Overall the strongest factor that would sway WA’s reluctant groups is access to “trustworthy information” (64%).

Turning to the economic outlook, the mood of WA households has ebbed further from the highs in March, but remained above pre-pandemic levels. More Western Australians expect stable conditions (55%) in the short term, while one in three (33%) expect conditions to improve. An unchanged 52% of WA households expect the economy to get stronger over the next 12 months.

For the fourth consecutive quarter, the State Government was the top factor sustaining household confidence in WA (63%). Household confidence was also buoyed by record low interest rates (38%). With Australia’s largest states experiencing COVID restrictions, domestic economic news dampened the outlook of one in three (29%) Western Australians. Concern about an outbreak in WA has inched up to 58%, after falling for the past 15 months.

The report shows how the vaccine ambivalence of Western Australians can be overcome. Surpassing the vaccination level of 80% articulated in the National Plan is the only way WA businesses and households can leave behind the painful era of economic lockdowns and closed borders.

Read the full Consumer Confidence Survey Report – September 2021

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