Only 58 per cent of Australians will definitely get a COVID-19 vaccine if it's available, which could force authorities to adopt "proactive measures" to end the pandemic, according to new research.

An Australian National University survey of 2000 respondents found high levels of hesitancy towards the jab were prevalent in the community with women and younger people less likely to embrace a vaccine.

The "sobering" findings suggest millions of Australians could remain at risk even if a safe vaccine is developed.

The results are particularly timely as two major trials of vaccines have recently reported strong results with officials hopeful a jab could be administered from early next year.

But with about 75 per cent of the population likely to need protection to extinguish the disease, the high level of hesitancy to the vaccine was a concern, according to the report's authors.

Co-author Nicholas Biddle said the population needed to take up a vaccine "as quickly as possible" so Australia could "open up our society, economy and community".

"Our findings show vaccine hesitancy, which accounts for a significant proportion of the population, may be addressed by public health messaging," he said.

"But for a significant minority of the population with strongly held beliefs, alternative policy measures may well be needed to achieve sufficient vaccination coverage to end the pandemic."

The survey showed nearly 29 per cent of Australians said they were "likely"to get a vaccine but were still "not certain" with the researchers classifying this position as hesitant.

A further 7 per cent who said they were unlikely to get a vaccine were also classified as hesitant.

Six per cent of respondents said they would not get a vaccine and were classified as "resistant".

The survey did not ask respondents if their position was based on perceived vaccine safety.

Study co-author Ben Edwards said the research revealed there were "significant levels of vaccine hesitancy or resistance across Australian society".

"We found females, those living in disadvantaged areas, those who reported that risks of COVID-19 were overstated, and those who had more populist views and higher levels of religiosity were more likely to be hesitant or resistant to a vaccine," he said.

"In contrast, those who had higher levels of household income, those who had higher levels of social distancing, who downloaded the COVID-Safe App, who had more confidence in their state or territory government or confidence in their hospitals, or were more supportive of migration were more likely to intend to get vaccinated."














Originally published as Vote now: Would you take a COVID-19 jab?

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