The Burnet Institute fieldwork team surveyed a sample of people who inject drugs recruited from needle and syringe programs across metropolitan Melbourne within the framework of the Illicit Drug Reporting System to explore COVID-19 vaccine acceptability. This bulletin presents preliminary findings describing the responses to these questions.
People who inject drugs appear to be at an increased risk of poor health, social and economic outcomes related to COVID-19 and associated restrictions. Factors which might increase risk include comorbid medical conditions, social and economic disadvantage, homelessness and housing instability, criminalisation/justice involvement and barriers to accessing health services, along with health risks from behaviours such as smoking that are known to affect disease severity. In anticipation of the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, work on vaccine acceptability has been undertaken to help identify barriers to uptake among the Australian general population. However, research is needed to determine vaccine acceptability among key risk groups who may be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, such as people who inject drugs.
The Burnet Institute conducted a survey of 100 people who inject drugs in Melbourne in December 2020 to generate preliminary evidence of COVID-19 vaccine acceptability among this group.
Results suggest that 57% of people who inject drugs who were surveyed would definitely or probably receive a COVID-19 vaccine if available, however this was significantly lower than the 77% observed in a recent survey of the broader Australian population.
Given the potential increased risk of COVID-19 infection, transmission and risk of disease among people who inject drugs and likely poorer health outcomes, education and information dissemination about the safety and efficacy of available vaccines in Australia should be a priority among this group. This work should be undertaken by, or in collaboration with, people who inject drugs and their representatives.
The full text of this bulletin is available online here.
"Given the potential increased risk of COVID-19 infection, transmission and risk of disease among people who inject drugs and likely poorer health outcomes, education and information dissemination about the safety and efficacy of available vaccines in Australia should be a priority among this group."