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COVID-19 vaccine research insights: 69% will take one

17 Feb 21

COVID-19 vaccine research insights: 69% will take one

69 percent of survey respondents (an estimated 2,487,900 New Zealand adults) are prepared to receive a “well tested and approved” COVID-19 vaccine.

This is one of the main findings of research conducted in December 2020 for the Ministry of Health by Horizon Research in collaboration with Auckland University's School of Population Health.

Two distinct but related online surveys were undertaken:1,451 respondents between 24 and 28 September 2020, and 1,438 respondents between 1 and 4 December 2020.

The Ministry says, drawing on the December results:

Uptake is likely to be highest among the among those aged 65+.

Barriers to uptake

  • 24 percent of respondents indicated that they would be unlikely to have a COVID-19 vaccine if offered.

  • 16 percent of New Zealand adults will not accept an offered vaccine.

Between the first and the second Horizon Research reports, there is a slight increase in overall vaccine hesitancy (if not a reduction in overall ‘acceptance’ numbers).

Pasifika and Māori have less confidence in the safety and quality of the vaccine and of its protection. People who are unlikely to take an offered COVID-19 vaccine are more likely to:

  • be female
  • have a lower household income than those who are likely to take a vaccine if offered
  • have lower educational qualifications than those who are likely to take a vaccine if offered
  • be a parent with children in their household
Māori, Pasifika and Other European, and people who are 35-44 years, are less willing to take a follow-up vaccine.

Follow-up doses

In December, 72 percent of respondents (equivalent to 2,574,200 adults) are prepared to have a followup dose if required, up three percent from September. 18 percent (an estimated 652,600 adults) are unlikely to have a follow-up dose if required.

Respondents of Māori, Pasifika and “Other European” ethnicities had lower than average willingness to take a follow-up vaccine.


The major reasons for hesitancy towards a vaccine are concerns regarding the vaccine’s safety. This is particularly the case for females.

When considering whether to take a COVID-19 vaccine, the top four thoughts that New Zealanders have are about potential side effects.

A third of people believe vaccines can be approved without knowing all the potential side effects.

Key insights that will influence uptake and understanding of the rollout approach:

  • Māori are marginally more likely to take the vaccine if they could ‘talk to someone about it’ first.
  • People are more receptive to recommendations from the Ministry of Health, the Director General of Health, medical specialists, GPs and the World Health Organisation than to recommendations from Ministers, the Prime Minister, friends, family, iwi or hapū leaders, and church leaders.

Social media influence

  • 21 percent of participants said they would not take a COVID-19 vaccine if a social media post or video alarmed them or was opposed to COVID-19 vaccines and looked credible. 

Support for roll out

  • There is broad understanding and support for prioritising the roll-out to groups and individuals who are at highest risk (border workers/health workers) and/or more vulnerable.

The Ministry's Insights Summary is here.

Reporting on an expert panel discussion based on the results is in our Commentaries section.