Jump in Kiwis keen to get vaccinated, one-in-ten unlikely to - research

Chris Hipkins.
Chris Hipkins. Photo credit: Getty.

New research shows a jump in the number of Kiwis keen to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, but about one-in-ten are still unlikely to get jabbed. 

"Ministry of Health research from April shows 77 percent of New Zealanders aged 16 years and over say they are likely to get a vaccine or have already received a vaccine. This compares to 69 percent in March," COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said on Friday afternoon.

"The results show the number of people who say they are unlikely to get vaccinated dropped to 12 percent, down from 20 per cent in March and 24 percent in December 2020. Of the 12 per cent unlikely, there remains a smaller group of people who are opposed, at 7.8 per cent."

The potential uptake for Māori has risen from 64 percent to 71 percent, while Pasifika potential uptake has jumped from 59 percent in March to 79 percent. Those aged over 65 continue to be more likely to get a vaccine than other age groups.

"The number of Māori and Pasifika respondents who were unsure if they would take a vaccine has dropped since March 2021 (from 18 to 12 percent and 32 to 9 percent respectively)" the research shows.

"If the vaccine is made available for 12 to 15-year olds, 56 percent of caregivers are likely to allow the children they care for to be vaccinated.

"While those who identified as disabled are more likely to be unsure about getting a vaccine, they are less likely to reject getting vaccinated than the overall population. "

Hipkins said the results are "really encouraging". 

"Major information campaigns, solid progress in the vaccine rollout and strong role models in each community are making a real difference," the minister said.

"Given the rollout has been underway for three months, it is fantastic to already see a steady decline in those who say they won’t get a vaccine, including in those communities considered high-risk. 

"We do know it’s important to understand why people might not be ready to commit to getting the vaccine just yet."

An overview of the research says the main reasons for people being unsure or unlikely to get vaccinated are concerns about long-term effects, safety or waiting to see if others have side effects.

"11 percent of those who are unsure or unlikely to get a vaccine say they have had a bad experience in the past when taking a vaccine," it says.

"15 percent of respondents are unsure if they have to pay for the vaccine and 4 percent believe they do have to pay for the vaccine. This has decreased since March 2021."

The key factor convincing people to get the vaccine is "that it is proven effective and guaranteed safe with no major side effects".

The research also found that the Director-General of Health (41 percent) and the Prime Minister (34 percent) have significantly more impact than TV and radio personalities (14 percent), sports stars (16 percent) and other high-profile people (17 percent) in influencing people to be vaccinated. 

The brand of vaccine will impact the decision of one in six people of those who are either likely to get a vaccine or are unsure. 

"Most of those who say brand will impact their decision to accept a vaccine were concerned about potential blood clotting caused by vaccines."

The full research report for April and other months can be found here.

Hipkins said that as of Thursday night, 505,820 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine has been administered. It took 49 days to hit the 100,000 doses mark, two weeks to get to 200,000, 12 days to reach 300,000, eight days to hit 400,000 and then another eight to reach 500,000.

"Given the complexity and sheer scale of the task at hand this is a strong confidence booster in the vaccination programme as we prepare for the bulk of the vaccine to arrive in the country from July," he said.

"We know our supply of vaccines will be constrained to the end of June, but our planning has always been predicated on larger amounts of vaccine arriving from July, enabling us to finish vaccinating Group 3 and then move into the wider population.

"The vast majority of DHBs have already started vaccinating Group 3 or will do so in the next few weeks, and we remain on track to make the vaccine available to everyone in New Zealand by the end of 2021."