Aucklanders living week-to-week hoping for eased COVID-19 restrictions promised more certainty

Aucklanders living week-to-week hoping for restrictions to ease have been promised more certainty about how they'll get out of lockdown. 

But one of the goals is vaccination rates, which are stubbornly low in some areas, and the Government is banking on getting 100,000 needles in arms this Super Saturday. 

Out in rural Taranaki on Friday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke face-to-face with locals, convincing the vaccine hesitant one at a time. 

"People said that people with asthma can't get it done," one local told Ardern, to which she replied: "Oh, actually people with asthma really want to get it done!"

She called over experts to help. 

"You're an asthamtic, are you?" Ardern asked. "Well, there's a nurse here that can talk to you all about that."

The nurse told the local: "It's more important for you than for someone who's not an asthamtic, because if you got COVID, you would probably be sicker than, say, I would."

After answering some questions and a bit of encouragement, Ardern had some success. 

"I thought it might take a little longer - so that's great!"

It's especially significant for Taranaki, where only half the eligible population is fully vaccinated. It will take a lot of conversations like this to convince roughly 700,000 eligible but unvaccinated Kiwis across the country to get the jab. 

"That for me is really satisfying because that's another family protected and every single one counts," Ardern said. 

"We always knew that when we got to a certain point, that last percentage would take extra effort."

Otago University Professor Michal Baker, an epidemiologist, is cautious about easing restrictions while the country is still getting vaccinated.

"I don't think we should ease before we get to 90 percent," he told Newshub. 

"But again, the big indicator is the number of cases we're getting and the number of people in the hospital system."

To get there, about 277,000 people still need their first dose of Pfizer.

On average, we're doing almost 17,000 first doses a day. At that rate, it could take 16 more days until 90 percent have their first jabs. 

Add the three-week wait for a second jab, and the two weeks it takes for that to kick in - 90 percent full immunity of the eligible population - may not happen until December. 

The Government is hoping to speed that. 

Ardern's hope for Kiwis: "Everyone getting vaccinated as soon as possible."

But as soon as possible is not what a Labour Party member allegedly told Auckland resident Michelle.

"I said I had my first shot and I was going in for my next shot the following day and she asked me if I would consider waiting till Saturday," she told Newshub. 

Ardern said that would "certainly not be in keeping with what we are hoping to drive". 

Michelle says she got that call from the office of her local MP Shanan Halbert. 

"They've been caught red-handed trying to pump up the numbers," says ACT leader David Seymour. 

Halbert told Newshub he'd checked with all his volunteers and said no one was spreading that message. 

For Aucklanders living week-to-week hoping for a few freedoms like the rest of the country, Newshub understands they'll be given some goals next week. 

Specific vaccination rates and characteristics of the outbreak will trigger steps out of lockdown, and vaccine passports will open doors.