Coronavirus: Chris Hipkins calls on vaccinated New Zealanders to help reach 20 pct unvaccinated

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins is calling on vaccinated New Zealanders to help reach the remaining 20 percent who are yet to get their first dose.

Of eligible Kiwis, 51 percent are fully vaccinated and 80 percent have received their first dose. This equates to 2,157,447 people who are fully vaccinated and 3,380,704 who have had one jab. A further 2 percent - about 75,000 people - are booked in to receive their first vaccine.

Hipkins says if just one in four people who've been vaccinated bring along one unvaccinated person, then New Zealand can reach a 100 percent vaccination rate.

"We need those who've been vaccinated to be having those conversations. We're not going to be able to, as Government, reach every one of them, even with paid advertising and all that we are doing," he said during Thursday's COVID-19 update.

"That's why we need everybody who's part of that group who've done the right thing and been vaccinated, we still need them to be having those conversations with those who haven't."

Hipkins says information will be released later on Thursday that shows the rates of vaccination across the country by suburb. From that, a correlation can be drawn between demographic characteristics of those neighbourhoods that have higher concentrations of unvaccinated people.

"It's not that people are staunchly anti-vaccination, it's just that there's a degree of comfort they have at the moment that they don't feel they need a vaccination," he says.

Chris Hipkins.
Chris Hipkins. Photo credit: Getty Images

The Ministry of Health said on Wednesday New Zealanders should consider shortening the gap between their first and second doses of the vaccine so more people can be fully vaccinated.

The recommended gap between doses was extended from three weeks to six weeks in August so more people could have the chance to get at least partially vaccinated. But as dozens of new daily cases continue to be announced, Kiwis could look to bring their second vaccine forward so there's only a three-week gap between doses.

"We need as many as possible to have their first dose to be partially protected, but we also need all those people to be fully vaccinated with two doses as soon as possible," Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay said during Wednesday's COVID-19 update.

"By enabling people to have that second dose sooner, but after at least three weeks, more people can be fully vaccinated sooner and hence increase our community immunity."