A new La Trobe research project is examining why some people support and others oppose childhood vaccinations.
Lead researcher Tom Rozbroj from La Trobe’s Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society is surveying pro and anti vaxxers to determine how attitudes to vaccination relate to broader beliefs and experiences.
You can help out and take part in this research by completing the survey online, and sharing it with your friends and family. Participants must be over 18 and living in Australia. To take part visit the website.
“We know a lot about vaccination behaviour – how many people vaccinate, when and where in Australia,” Mr Rozbroj said. “What we lack is a clear understanding of how attitudes on childhood vaccinations are formed.”
“When choosing whether to vaccinate or not parents make a range of decisions – who to trust, how to assess risk and benefit, whether to do their own research or accept an expert’s advice. Those decisions are driven by broader beliefs. To understand vaccine attitudes, you must understand the beliefs underpinning them.
“Every parent, no matter what their vaccine attitude, is trying to do the best for their child. Our research isn’t about judging, but rather understanding. The identity of participants will be protected.”
Mr Rozbroj said the research examines attitudes on vaccination, health and life in general. It includes questions about personal experiences and knowledge of the vaccination schedule, views on mainstream and holistic medicine and trust in government, pharmaceutical companies and science.
“We also ask where they get their information on vaccinations and healthcare, how they make healthcare choices, their perceptions of people with differing views to their own and whether they feel stigmatised.”
Mr Rozbroj said Australia’s national vaccination rate was above 90 per cent, but below 85 per cent in parts of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.
“There has been a concerted effort to increase those rates through initiatives like No Jab, No Play, but it’s a carrot and stick approach that may end up further alienating some people.
“Understanding attitudes to vaccinations is important if we want to change behaviour.”