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A third of Australians don’t believe COVID-safe measures are necessary this Christmas

Is COVID-19 going to bleed into 2024 or are we through the looking glass?

<p>‘Social distancing’ seems like a thing of the past according to Pfizer research. [Source: Shutterstock]</p>

‘Social distancing’ seems like a thing of the past according to Pfizer research. [Source: Shutterstock]

Key points:

  • New research has revealed that one-third of Australians do not believe in the importance of practising COVID-safe behaviours or staying up to date with coronavirus vaccinations
  • With high numbers of older Australians still being admitted to hospitals and intensive care units with COVID-19, the majority of older Australians believe that the future emergence of new COVID-19 variants will not significantly impact them
  • According to Pfizer, experts have urged Australians to maintain COVID-safe measures ahead of the holiday season


A new Pfizer survey to canvass Australians’ understanding and perceived risk of COVID-19 found that one-third of Australians do not believe that COVID-safe measures, such as staying up to date with vaccinations, wearing masks, hand sanitisation and social distancing, are important to protect against COVID-19.

The COVID Community Sentiment Index, a quantitative research survey regularly commissioned by Pfizer Australia, revealed Australians’ views on COVID-19 in November of 2023.

Over one-third do not believe that staying up to date with vaccinations is important. Additionally, 64 percent of Aussies do not think that new COVID-19 variants will have a significant impact on them in one year.

The purpose of the COVID-19 vaccine is to teach your body how to recognise a dangerous spike protein, like the COVID-19 virus, as a threat and then fight against these proteins.

Different vaccines use different ways of showing your body what to look out for; however, the COVID-19 vaccine is not a cure for the virus, it improves your immunity and reduces the likelihood of you catching the virus. Additionally, you can still spread COVID-19 if you are vaccinated.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are messenger RNAs, also referred to as ‘MRNAs.’ This means that the vaccine has a genetic code that makes your body produce the spike protein found in the coronavirus, which your body then responds to.

Infectious Diseases Specialist Professor Robert Booy, from the University of Sydney, has urged Australians to resist complacency ahead of the holiday season.

“As much as we would all like to forget about COVID-19, COVID-19 is not done with us. Evidence shows that the disease continues to evolve and have significant impact in our communities, especially those at higher risk of severe illness,” Professor Booy said.

“With COVID-19 part of our new reality, we need to continue to embed some habits and measures to protect ourselves and our communities.” 

The research also found that more than half 57 percent of older Australians, who are often at higher risk of severe disease, believe new variants of COVID-19 will not have a significant impact on them a year from now.

Older Australians are heavily encouraged to get the COVID-19 vaccine as it is the best way to protect themselves against the virus.

Federal Government data uncovered that, as of December 1, 2023, an average of 165 Australians a day were admitted to hospital with COVID-19 and 57 people were in the ICU with COVID-19 complications.

A recent report also found that 2.5 million people aged 65 years or older were not up to date with their six-monthly COVID-19 vaccine doses — two million more than in 2022. In addition, three-quarters of Australians aged 75 years or older had not received a COVID-19 vaccination in the six months leading up to November 2023.

“With many people travelling and gathering to celebrate the holiday season, it’s important to remember that COVID loves a crowd. Even though most healthy Australians are protected against severe COVID, there remain a few million vulnerable people who have not had an updated COVID-19 vaccination in the last six months. Taking precautions this Christmas is only sensible,” Professor Booy said.

COVID-19 has a higher likelihood of being severe in an older person, as roughly one in three people over the age of 80 will die from the virus and one in 14 would die if they were aged between 65 – 79. Older people with COVID-19 are also more likely to be admitted to hospital for treatment compared to younger people.

The Federal Government recommends all Australians aged five years and over should be vaccinated against COVID-19 to receive the best protection against serious illness.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation has provided detailed guidance on COVID-19 vaccination recommendations for Australians based on age and risk factors for serious illness, including who should receive an additional 2023 COVID-19 vaccination dose. For more information about ATAGI-recommended COVID-19 vaccination doses, please refer to


Are you still worried about COVID-19 moving into 2024? Let the team at Talking Aged Care know your thoughts on the matter and subscribe to the FREE weekly newsletter to learn more.


Related content:

Mythbusting misinformation around the COVID-19 vaccine

Keeping yourself healthy and safe during COVID-19

Everything you need to know about coronavirus

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