The hosts of the Edge's breakfast show were dubbed 'pigs' and 'disgusting' in angry feedback they read out about the station's 'Vaxcation' competition, open only to listeners fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Meg Mansell and Clinton Randell reflected on the responses to the competition which launched on Monday offering a trip for four to Rarotonga to fans who could prove they'd either been vaccinated or were planning to be.
The promotion, a collaboration with Flight Centre, immediately drew backlash online, with some suggesting the concept was "discriminatory" while others peddled untruths about the safety of the vaccine.
"You guys are disgusting. I'm not anti-vax, I'm pro-choice, and you clowns are promoting getting jabbed with something that is still on trial, you sick f's," said one of the messages read out on air by Randell.
Mansell offered up another complaint which read: "You pigs, don't force the vaccine down our throats, it's Satan's liquid", while a third outrageously declared: "You've lost a listener. If you keep promoting this vaccine you might not have a population to play your station to."
The Pfizer vaccine being used in New Zealand was provisionally approved in February by New Zealand's medicine regulator Medsafe, which has been receiving clinical data from the pharmaceutical company since November 2020. The approval process was streamlined, but no corners were cut in the rigorous safety assessments, and the COVID-19 vaccine is being held to the same standard as all other vaccines getting full approval.
The COVID-19 vaccine is not 'experimental', but clinical trials continue globally and Pfizer must provide clinical data and reporting for Medsafe to continue to review.
Randell said he "didn't understand" the "angst" from people about the competition, telling listeners: "If you don't want to get it, that's fine, you don't get it. If you do want to get it, that's fine, you go and get it."
"It is everyone's personal choice and right to do what you want to do. The Government isn't making it compulsory, right? But it just means you can't enter this competition."
"Married At First Sight - you can't be married already if you want to go on it," he added.
"If I wanted to enter a best looking parrot competition, I can't because I don't have a parrot," Mansell agreed.
In a statement given to Newshub by The Edge earlier this week, the station said it was "rewarding" people who had been or were planning to be immunised against COVID-19, and that there would be plenty of other competitions for listeners who couldn't or wouldn't get the shots.
"We encourage people to get the COVID-19 vaccine because collectively that's our best defence against this virus," the statement said.
This week the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Mark Brown said that when the travel bubble with New Zealand reopens, people over 12 would need to be fully vaccinated in order to visit, and could only do so if there had been no community transmission of the virus in New Zealand for at least 14 days.
The Edge shared news of Brown's announcement while promoting the 'Vaxcation' competition on social media.