COVID-19: Latest vaccine hesitancy data shows 79 percent of Kiwis keen to get the jab

The COVID-19 vaccination rollout has become "mission-critical" and New Zealand finally has a target to start opening up - at least 90 percent of Kiwis fully vaccinated.

And new research shows getting it is possible but there's a lot of convincing to do - with the Prime Minister pleading to "do it for the kids".

Shirley Hamilton was really nervous to get vaccinated but the kuia bravely got the jab for her daughter and said it was actually ka pai.

"Piece of cake! Doesn't hurt yet!"

Hamilton is now among the growing army of those New Zealanders vaccinated against COVID-19.

"We've hit another milestone - today we hit 3 million doses delivered nationwide," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday.

That's more than 70 percent of eligible Kiwis who now have their first jab.

But the country has more mahi to do because after the Government refused to say for months, New Zealand finally has a target for population vaccination.

"It's not just any vaccination level - it's a very high vaccination level. We need to be at or above 90 percent," Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told reporters.

And New Zealand could get there. The latest vaccine hesitancy research shows 79 percent of Kiwis are keen to get the jab, 7 percent are unsure and could be convinced, 14 percent say they're unlikely to get vaccinated and only 7.4 percent completely ruled out getting the jab.

That means if the "unsure" and "unlikelies" are convinced, New Zealand could hit 92 percent coverage.

"This is mission-critical - every New Zealander needs to take up that opportunity," Dr Bloomfield said.

Especially as the Delta outbreak makes more tamariki sick than the last wave.

"Do it for the kids," Ardern said.

And here's another grim reminder of why we must get vaccinated; one in every 500 US citizens have died from COVID-19 and just 50 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated.

"The evidence could not be clearer - in the countries with high vaccination rates, it's become a pandemic - or epidemic - of the unvaccinated," Dr Bloomfield said.

Kiwis hesitant to get vaccinated are mostly worried about side effects, the Ministry of Health's vaccine research shows.

Though a new concern has emerged - that it might not be effective against new variants of the virus including Delta.

But, it is.

"It remains highly effective against your risk of disease and highly effective against your risk of dying," said Immunisation Advisory Centre director Nikki Turner.