Health – One In five NZers unlikely to get COVID vaccination

Those who are hesitant to get vaccinated cite concerns about the speed at which vaccines are moving through clinical trials (38%) and the potential side effects (27%).

One year on, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have an impact on the world and the way our daily lives operate. With the vaccination process having started in New Zealand, 51% of New Zealanders say they are likely to get the vaccine once it becomes available to them. One in five (18%) say they are not likely to get vaccinated and a quarter (24%) sit somewhere between, indicating they are likely to need some level of persuasion. A further 7% have not yet made up their mind.

As part of an ongoing tracker into the mind and mood of New Zealanders during the COVID-19 pandemic, market research company Ipsos asked 1000 New Zealanders a series of questions about how they feel about the threat of the virus, how well the NZ border and MIQ facilities are being managed, and thoughts about the COVID-19 vaccine. As it has been over a year since the first reported cases in New Zealand, we have compared some results to the first wave of the Ipsos New Zealand COVID-19 tracker initiated in March 2020, prior to our first level 4 lockdown.

Fieldwork for the current wave in New Zealand was conducted from February 10th to February 15th, 2021. The last day of fieldwork coincided with Auckland moving to level 3 lockdown and the rest of New Zealand moving to level 2.

Key findings include:

  • The perceived threat of COVID-19 to community, job / business, and country have all increased this wave, and are at the highest level since September 2020. Three in 10 (29%) believe COVID-19 poses a high threat to their job or business.
  • 83% (compared to 67% March 2020) of New Zealanders believe the government is doing a good job in containing the spread of the virus and dealing with the recovery.
  • Three quarters (75%, compared to 62% March 2020) of New Zealanders support keeping the borders closed. Support for keeping the borders closed has remained high throughout the pandemic.
  • 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.
  • Half (51%) of New Zealanders say they are likely to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to them, while one in five (18%) are not likely to get vaccinated and one quarter (24%) sit somewhere in between.

Perceived threat of COVID-19

The threat of COVID-19 to New Zealand as a country peaked during the level 4 lockdown (61%) but gradually decreased, reaching its lowest level (23%) in December 2020. However, this has now increased to 32% in February 2021. New Zealanders believe COVID-19 poses more risk to the world (78%) than to themselves (15%) and the country (32%).

Further, 21% consider COVID-19 a high level of threat to one’s local community, while 29% consider it a threat to their job / business.

Government performance

The majority of New Zealanders (83%) believe the government is doing a good job to contain the spread of the virus and deal with recovery. Throughout the pandemic New Zealanders have rated the government high.

Border management

Three quarters (75%) of New Zealanders believe that we should keep the borders closed, not letting anyone in or out until the virus is proven to be contained. This number peaked at 87% during the level 4 lockdown but has remained high throughout the pandemic with the lowest being 70% in October 2020.

Two thirds (66%) of New Zealanders are confident that the borders are being managed well, and 61% agree that MIQ facilities are being managed well however 36% disagree.

Vaccine hesitancy

When New Zealanders were asked how they feel about getting a COVID-19 vaccine, feeling a sense of responsibility (45%), being hopeful (42%) and being relieved (31%) are dominant compared to being sceptical (20%) or scared (17%).

When asked if they will get vaccinated against COVID-19, half (51%) of New Zealanders say they are likely, one quarter (18%) are unlikely to get vaccinated and a further one quarter (24%) are unsure. This indicates that around 42% of New Zealanders could require at least some level of persuasion.

Those who are hesitant to get vaccinated cite concerns about the speed at which vaccines are moving through clinical trials (38%) and the potential side effects (27%). In general, the most important drivers of New Zealanders’ decision to get vaccinated are safety and how effective it is in the population.

59% of New Zealanders support making the vaccine mandatory for adults aged over 18 (Australia: 54%).

Commenting on the Ipsos COVID-19 tracker, Carin Hercock, Managing Director, Ipsos New Zealand, said: “It’s now over a year that we’ve been living with COVID-19 in our country. As we have learnt to live with the virus, many things are starting to return to normal. However, there are still 29% of New Zealanders who believe that COVID-19 continues to be a big threat to their job or business. While we might feel pleased that our result hasn’t increased since this time last year, like some countries and is that it is lower than most – that’s still a big proportion of our people feeling concerned about their livelihood.”

Amanda Dudding, Research Director, Public Affairs, Ipsos New Zealand, added: “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. Of most concern is the 18% who say they’re not planning to be vaccinated. However, there is another 24% who sit somewhere between the two extremes and who will require persuasion to get on board.

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. Communications will need to reassure New Zealanders that the vaccines are safe and effective – that they have met the usual high safety and quality standards.

Globally we’ve seen that as the roll out begins, there tends to be an increase in intension to get vaccinated, so it will be interesting to see if New Zealand follows this pattern.”

ENDS.