COVID-19 vaccine: Chris Hipkins says Government looking for 'role models' to get jab publicly

Chris Hipkins.
Chris Hipkins. Photo credit: Newshub.

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says the Government is looking for "role models" to get vaccinated against the coronavirus publicly to help send the message the jab is safe.

While there won't be an official "big" launch for New Zealand's vaccine rollout, which has officially been underway for several weeks, it's hoped the public will witness role models getting their jabs throughout the campaign, Hipkins says.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said she will get vaccinated publicly, but not straight away as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison did. 

"The obvious question that we get asked all of the time is 'when will we [ministers] get the vaccination?'" Hipkins told a news briefing on Wednesday.

"As the Prime Minister and I have both canvassed before, there's an interesting equation that we're balancing up here; one is not to be seen to be jumping the queue but then also not to be seen being reluctant.

"We have to balance that up. We haven't made a final decision on when we will do that."

Asked on Wednesday if the likes of the All Blacks were on the table to be publicly vaccinated, Hipkins said he hadn't been involved in relevant discussions.

"But, yes, we are looking at role models to be out there and demonstrating the safety of the vaccine and giving the communities confidence that they should also get the vaccine."

Earlier, the Ministry of Health revealed the first New Zealanders had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 - all managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) workers - while another 500 MIQ staff were due to return for their second doses.

"I now feel like I have tripled my protection and feel so much better for it," said Jet Park Hotel quarantine facility operations manager Drew Leafa, who's among those now fully vaccinated. "I know there is a lot of scepticism and theories out there, but I know it is going to save you, save your family and save your life."