From speculative to real: community attitudes towards government COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Western Australia from May 2021 to April 2022

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Many governments employed mandates for COVID-19 vaccines, imposing consequences upon unvaccinated people. Attitudes towards these policies have generally been positive, but little is known about how discourses around them changed as the characteristics of the disease and the vaccinations evolved. Western Australia (WA) employed sweeping COVID-19 vaccine mandates for employment and public spaces whilst the state was closed off from the rest of the country and world, and mostly with no COVID-19 in the community. This article analyses WA public attitudes during the mandate policy lifecycle from speculative to real. Qualitative interview data from 151 adults were analysed in NVivo 20 via a novel chronological analysis anchored in key policy phases: no vaccine mandates, key worker vaccine mandates, vaccine mandates covering 75% of the workforce and public space mandates. Participants justified mandates as essential for border reopening and, less frequently, for goals such as protecting the health system. However, public discourse focusing on ‘getting coverage rates up’ may prove counter-productive for building support for vaccination; governments should reinforce end goals in public messaging (reducing suffering and saving lives) because such messaging is likely to be more meaningful to vaccination behaviour in the longer term.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth Economics, Policy and Law
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 May 2024

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