Police investigating after Bay of Plenty woman offered $200 to get COVID-19 vaccine on someone else's behalf

Police are investigating claims two Tauranga women were offered hundreds of dollars to get the COVID-19 vaccine on someone else's behalf.

It comes after a Katikati social worker told the NZ Herald one of her clients and their daughter were approached and offered $200 to pretend to be someone else in order to get the jab.

The women, who were unvaccinated, were tempted by the offer as they "really needed the money" but turned it down after growing uneasy at a request to memorise another woman's personal details.

The incident has prompted fears a wider vaccine racket targeting vulnerable people is at play in the Bay of Plenty area, with claims a homeless man had been given $50 to recruit participants for the scheme.

A police spokesperson confirmed to Newshub they were looking into it and making enquiries, but they weren't aware of any similar incidents in the area.

"However police would take seriously any reports of someone getting vaccinated on behalf of another person," they said.

Last month, the Ministry of Health told Newshub it knew about a scam involving people getting vaccinated on behalf of others and had passed details onto the police.

Jo Gibbs, national director of the COVID-19 vaccine and immunisation programme, said at the time that the health system operated in a "high-trust environment" and it was "dangerous" to undergo a medical procedure - such as vaccination - under a false identity.

"This puts at risk the person who receives a vaccination under an assumed identity and the person whose health record will show they have been vaccinated when they have not."

Each could end up receiving inappropriate treatments in the future based on their incorrect records, Gibbs said.

"If they presented with any symptoms or illnesses a medical professional would be working with inaccurate health records."

However tightening up the process for vaccination - such as requiring photo identification - would disproportionately reduce access for vulnerable groups most at risk from COVID-19, Gibbs said, such as "the homeless or transient, the elderly, the young, [or] people with disabilities".