A vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine (Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images)
A vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine (Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Covid-19March 9, 2021

One in five New Zealanders ‘unlikely’ to get Covid-19 vaccine, survey finds

A vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine (Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images)
A vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine (Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

A new survey has found 18% of New Zealanders are ‘unlikely’ to get a Covid-19 vaccination, and nearly one in four are still unsure.

A year after the arrival of the coronavirus to our shores, a new survey suggests officials may still have to contend with vaccine hesitancy ahead of the public roll-out.

Between February 10 and February 15, the Ipsos survey asked how likely people would be to get the vaccine once it becomes publicly available. Of the 1,000 New Zealanders surveyed, 18% responded “unlikely” and 24% “unsure”. Just over half of those surveyed – 51% – said they were likely to get the jab, with only 7% having not made up their mind.

Almost one in five people saying they’re unlikely to get the jab this close to the roll-out is certainly cause for concern, but the Ipsos survey found lower rates of vaccine hesitancy than recent polling by Stickybeak for The Spinoff, which was carried out at a similar time. In that survey, 25% – or one in four – said they would not take a medically approved Covid-19 vaccine. 

The vaccination concerns revealed by this latest survey come in the wake of the government announcing it has secured enough of the Covid-19 Pfizer vaccine for all New Zealanders to receive the requisite double course. 

The new data is part of an ongoing series by Ipsos looking at the “mind and mood” of New Zealanders throughout the pandemic. Interestingly, while 51% said they were likely to get the jab, a higher percentage – 59% – supported making the vaccine mandatory for adults aged over 18.

The same survey found that while vaccine hesitancy remains, the government’s response to Covid-19 continues to receive plaudits, with over 80% of those surveyed saying they believed the virus had been well handled.

According to the Ipsos data, 38% of those who were hesitant to get vaccinated cited concerns about the speed at which vaccines are moving through clinical trials, with 27% being worried about potential side effects. This piece from The Spinoff back in early February explains that neither of these should be overly concerning to people – especially considering billions of people will have been vaccinated by the time the public rollout kicks off later in the year.

Other key findings from the Ipsos survey include:

  • Three quarters (75%, compared to 62% a year ago) of New Zealanders support keeping the borders closed;
  • Two thirds (66%) feel confident that the New Zealand borders are being managed well and 61% agree that managed isolation and quarantine facilities are being managed well; and
  • Three in 10 (29%) believe Covid-19 poses a high threat to their job or business.

Amanda Dudding, a research director at Ipsos New Zealand, said in a statement: “Rolling out the vaccine is a massive logistical job, but having the vaccine available for New Zealanders isn’t going to be enough. While half of the population say they are likely to get vaccinated when it’s available to them, the other half are going to need some persuasion.”

She added: “While the logistical side of the roll-out is happening, information about vaccinations will need to start persuading New Zealanders to ensure they’re willing and ready when it’s their turn.” Dudding said globally, there tends to be an increase in intention to get vaccinated as the roll-out begins. “It will be interesting to see if New Zealand follows this pattern,” she said.

While the majority of the New Zealand public are still waiting for the chance to get their vaccination, almost 10,000 health workers have already received their first dose. Last week, Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins said any border workers who declined to get vaccinated would be redeployed into other positions – but he couldn’t say how many had refused the vaccine so far.

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