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Steady projection: 69% will take COVID-19 vaccine

17 Apr 21

Credit: RNZ/ Samuel Rillstone
Steady projection: 69% will take COVID-19 vaccine
Dr Ashley Bloomfield discussing research results with media

Across seven months of research to April 1, 2021, the percentage of those aged 16+ in New Zealand who likely to take a COVID-19 vaccine remains steady, at 69 percent.

The surveys, conducted for the Ministry of Health by Horizon Research, in association with Auckland University's School of Public Health, find

  • There is demand to access the vaccine early, with 15 percent (an estimated 612,200 adults) stating they would take it immediately if it was available. 

  • While people’s intention to accept or not accept a COVID-19 vaccine remains steady, the number of those who said they were unsure or unlikely to take a vaccine and who needed assurances about vaccine safety overall has fallen 11 percent since December 2020 to 40 percent.

Barriers to uptake:

Over the past seven months of research, the number of people in the general population who will definitely not take a vaccine remains unchanged. This number is unlikely to change greatly and is predicted to remain at about 9.4 percent.

20 percent of respondents (including the ‘definitely not’ 9.4 percent) are unlikely to have a COVID-19 vaccine if offered (an estimated 798,000 adults). This remains steady.

The number of respondents who were unsure if they would take a COVID-19 vaccine is similar to the September and December results, with 11 percent unsure, and marginally higher than the February results (7 percent).

The percentage of Māori and Pasifika who are unlikely to take a vaccine has dropped substantially from a peak in December 2020 – 27 percent to 18 percent and 34 percent to 9 percent respectively. However, those who will likely take a vaccine has not changed as significantly.

Those who are unlikely to take the vaccine are likely to believe that the vaccine is not free. (It will be free).

The main reasons for not taking a vaccine continue to be about long-term effects, effects on health and that it might not be effective. Noting that concerns about side-effects have declined slightly, while concerns about longterm effects are now the main reason for not taking a COVID-19 vaccine.

People in Groups 3 and 4 of the rollout plan have a better understanding of what group they fall into, whereas people who are in Groups 1 and 2 were less sure of what group they are in.

Confidence in the vaccine :

Around two-thirds of respondents were confident that any vaccine made available in New Zealand would prevent COVID-19 infection or severe death/illness from COVID-19.

This has not changed since December 2020 when it was 67 percent.

Confidence in COVID-19 vaccines meeting safety and quality standards is 70 percent and has remained steady since December 2020.

New Zealanders appear to be requiring less reassurance on clinical trials and side-effects than seen in the December 2020 and February 2021 research, but both of these remain major considerations for those who are unlikely to take a vaccine.

Factors that can influence uptake:

Factors that can influence vaccine acceptance remain similar to previous surveys but focus more on the benefits of the vaccine rather than testing and approvals These include:

  • Helping to protect all New Zealanders 
  • The vaccine is free.
  • Helping to end the COVID-19 pandemic more quickly
  • Helping to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection and the prospect of further lockdowns and economic harm.
  • Being vaccinated will protect me from the effects of COVID-19. 

Communication and information needs:

There continues to be a need for more information to help people decide whether to take the COVID-19 vaccine; in particular for Pasifika.

The key assurances/messages most sought by those currently not choosing to take a vaccine are about long-term side effects and safety (58 percent and 40 percent respectively).

When asked what information people needed about the roll-out plan, respondents who had not yet had a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine said they wanted to know more about:

  • the vaccine’s side-effects and what would happen if they had an adverse reaction. 
  • where and when to get a vaccination
  • how to make an appointment/book for a vaccination and whether they had a choice of location.
  • how the vaccine works and what is in it.

Of those who have already received a vaccine, 92 percent felt they received enough information about their vaccination.

Television New Zealand (TVNZ) is by far the most common source of information about the COVID-19 vaccine in the past 30 days.