Nearly a quarter of Kiwis unlikely to get COVID-19 vaccine - study

The Ministry of Health has released new research which reveals nearly a quarter of Kiwis are unlikely to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

New Zealand's first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Auckland at 9:30am on Monday from Belgium on a Singapore Airlines flight.

Border workers will be the first to get the jab, with vaccinations expected to begin on Saturday.

Health authorities are aiming for vaccinating 70 percent of the population, but a 2020 study conducted by Horizon Research found that may be a stretch to hope for.

Of the respondents, 69 percent said they are prepared to receive a 'well-tested and approved' COVID-19 vaccine, with uptake most likely among those aged 65+.

However, 24 percent of respondents indicated that they would be unlikely to have a COVID-19 vaccine if offered.

Of those, 16 percent of New Zealand adults said they would not accept an offered vaccine.

During a press conference on Wednesday, deputy head at the University of Auckland's school of population health Professor Chris Bullen said their communication had to address the concerns people had about the vaccine.

He said there was a group of about 10 percent of people who were very firm in their decision to not accept a vaccine and could be very hard to persuade, however, he thought another 10 - 15 percent were hesitant but persuadable.

The research identified the major reason for hesitancy was concerns regarding the vaccine's safety.

People who are unlikely to take a COVID-19 vaccine are more likely to:

  • be female
  • have a lower household income than those who are likely to take a vaccine if offered
  • have lower educational qualifications than those who are likely to take a vaccine if offered
  • be a parent with children in their household.

The research shows Pasifika and Māori have less confidence in the safety and quality of the vaccine and of its protection and have a lower willingness to take a follow-up vaccine.

However, Māori are marginally more likely to take the vaccine if they could 'talk to someone about it' first.

John Whaanga, the deputy director-general of Māori health, said an information campaign had been developed specifically for Māori.

Director of Pacific Health Gerardine Clifford-Lidstone said it was also important to ensure accurate information was getting to the public.

She said Pacific communities were vulnerable and susceptible to misinformation and rumour.

"We've been tracking social media for some time and what that tells us is that already there is a high level of scepticism within the Pacific community, in particular," Clifford-Lidstone said, Stuff reported.

"Countering these issues is not something that the ministry can do by themselves, and so from the entire outset of the COVID campaign we've linked really closely with our Pacific health leaders, clinicians, academic experts, Pacific providers, community leaders, to help us try to mobilise and to touch those trusted sources of information."