"It's better to be vaccinated than not vaccinated."
That's the message National Party leader Judith Collins has for former MP Matt King, who last month shared a controversial Facebook post containing anti-vaccine sentiment he described as "highly informative".
On Wednesday, after unveiling the National Party's plan to reopen New Zealand to the world once between 85 and 90 percent of Kiwis over 12-years-old are fully vaccinated, Collins and her deputy leader Shane Reti were asked how they planned to persuade former National and Northland MP King, as well as other Northlanders to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Just over 64 percent of Northlanders have had a dose of the vaccine.
"You'll have seen this week the CEO of Northland DHB, Dr Nick Chamberlain, came out seeking to reassure the Northland community that we believe the vaccine pathway is the pathway for New Zealand to assume some sense of normalcy," Dr Reti responded.
"Those of us in the community, who work with patients, we believe in the vaccine - we believe that it will help us return to economic and social survivorship - and so [it's] conveying to the community that the science, as we see it… will help bring those on board… including Matt King."
Collins, meanwhile, had a simple message for King.
"My message is it's much better to be vaccinated than not vaccinated," she said.
"I think, unfortunately, people get mixed messages about it. The longer this vaccine rollout has been taking, the more opportunities there's been for people to get mixed messages and all sorts of conspiracy theories."
After sharing the anti-vaccine Facebook post, King denied he was an anti-vaxxer.
"Don't put me in the anti-vax group or any of that sort of stuff, I'm none of that," he told the NZ Herald last month.
"I just think we need to think of ways we are going to get ourselves out of this situation and I don't think lockdowns are going to be the future."
The green light for use of the Pfizer vaccine, New Zealand's sole COVID-19 jab, was given by medicines regulator Medsafe in February.
Other countries approved the use of COVID-19 vaccines under emergency, whereas New Zealand approved Pfizer by going through the full approval process.
The vaccine was about 95 percent effective in an adult clinical trial.