About 3.9 million Australians, or about 18% of the population, had been vaccinated against the H1N1 virus by the end of February 2010, according to a survey undertaken by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). The percentage of adults (18 years and over) vaccinated was 21%.
The report of the survey, 2010 Pandemic Vaccination Survey: summary results, provides estimates of the H1N1 09 (otherwise known as swine flu) vaccination uptake, along with the motivation for, and barriers to, vaccination.
Some of the reasons why people wanted to get vaccinated included the seriousness of swine flu (25%), doctor's advice (17%), employment-related reasons (14%) and being in an 'at risk' group (11%).
'Of those who had not been vaccinated, more than 1 in 4 adults intended to get vaccinated before this winter,' said AIHW Director, Dr Penny Allbon.
However, more than half of all adult Australians (56%) had not been vaccinated, and were not intending to get vaccinated against swine flu before the 2010 flu season.
The main reasons reported for not getting vaccinated included a perception that swine flu was not a serious risk to their own health (26.7%), the vaccine had problems (15.7%), vaccination was not a priority for them (10.9%) and the threat of swine flu had already passed (11.6%).
'From the survey results, there appears to be some state variation in vaccination uptake,' Dr Allbon said.
'Tasmania had the highest vaccination uptake at 23.5%, while Western Australia had the lowest, at 15.0%.'
The H1N1 09 influenza vaccine was available free of charge in Australia from the end of September 2009. At the time of release it was approved for people aged 10 years and older, and was approved for children aged 6 months to 9 years from December 2009.
All people were eligible for vaccination, and it was strongly recommended for pregnant women, parents and guardians of infants, people with underlying chronic conditions, people who were severely obese, Indigenous Australians, and health and community care workers.
'Of these "at risk" groups, significantly higher vaccination uptake than the general population was seen among people with underlying chronic conditions (34.7%) and health and community care workers (29.5%),' Dr Allbon said.