HIV false positives terminate Aussie vaccine

Experts reveal how to win public over to virus jab

A public health information campaign in the form of television ads is a must to ensure the uptake of any COVID-19 vaccine delivered to Australians, experts say.

As Queensland vaccine developers pinpoint maintaining public confidence as one of the main drivers in the decision to shelve the University of Queensland's candidate vaccine, virus experts believe that the public needs clear information on all aspects of jabs.

Even though the UQ vaccine is safe and effective, trial results have thrown up false positive HIV results in volunteers. This was considered a hurdle to public confidence.

The developers CSL have now committed to making 20 million more doses of the Oxford vaccine which looks like the frontrunner.

A top Queensland virologist has told The Courier-Mail he believes that unless informative messages are delivered to all Australians fast, a future COVID-19 vaccine may be virtually useless.

"An urgent education campaign is a must to build trust and ensure maximum uptake of any future COVID-19 vaccine," Associate Professor Ian Mackay said

A recent Insight report in the Medical Journal Australia revealed concerns are starting to emerge on social media in relation to vaccine fast-tracking.

"These concerns have the potential to undermine trust, as well as the providers delivering it, leading to misunderstanding and misapprehension," the report states.

The journal says that in Australia, intended vaccine acceptance appears to be fluctuating between 76 per cent and 86 per cent.

"Willingness to vaccinate", does not always equate to actual uptake, according to the authors.

"In 2009, "willingness" to receive the H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic vaccine was documented in the month prior to the vaccine release at 54 per cent. In reality, out of the 21 million doses purchased, only 18.9 per cent of the population actually received it. Low perceptions of personal risk coupled with beliefs that the situation did not warrant the need for vaccination and concerns about the development of the vaccine were all factors given for non-acceptance," the authors said.

Assoc prof Mackay said that COVID-19 pandemic was unprecedented as in 2009 there was already a "flu vaccine platform" to work from.

Originally published as Experts: How to win public over to virus jab