The Australian government is committed to providing vaccine to all Australians during an influenza pandemic. Irrespective of how long it takes for a vaccine to become available, initial supply will be limited and exceeded by demand. Community juries were convened in Wollongong (NSW), Melbourne (Victoria) and Kalgoorlie (Western Australia) to assess the public acceptability and perceived legitimacy of pandemic vaccination distribution strategies that aim to:
34 participants of diverse backgrounds, genders and ages were recruited by random-digit-dialing and social-media advertising. Juries were presented with, and able to question experts on, factual evidence and model-based simulations supporting varied perspectives on potential benefits and risks of vaccine distribution strategies that aim for direct and indirect protection.
All three community juries voted in support of employing a vaccine distribution strategy aimed at achieving indirect protection; Melbourne by a 10-2 majority and Wollongong and Kalgoorlie by consensus verdicts. Jurors in all 3 groups reasoned that indirect protection will benefit more people and is more likely to be more acceptable to the public – in Wollongong protecting children was also a key concern. Jurors were not opposed to prioritising groups at higher risks of adverse outcomes, but chose the indirect strategy because of its assumed effectiveness and efficiency in implementation, such that the fairest outcomes for all were most likely to be achieved by prioritising population benefits.