As New Zealand races to vaccinate 90 per cent of the eligible population against Covid-19 by Christmas, New Zealand's top towns for vaccine uptake have been revealed. Exclusive Ministry of Health data shows the vaccine progress of 66 towns from Whāngārei to Invercargill. Megan Wilson and Maryana Garcia look at how Bay of Plenty towns rank as of September 29.
Nearly 40 per cent of Tauranga City's population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Ministry of Health data shows 39.7 per cent of the population have received both jabs, while a further 34 per cent had received their first dose as of Wednesday.
Western Bay of Plenty District has 39.2 per cent and Whakatāne District 38.5 per cent of their populations fully vaccinated. Rotorua has 42.5 per cent fully vaccinated while Hamilton has 45 per cent.
Bay of Plenty District Health Board said it would do "whatever it takes" to create vaccination opportunities in the Bay.
The board would work with providers to be "out and about" offering vaccinations, Covid-19 incident controller Trevor Richardson said.
There would also be more pop-up clinics and drive-through opportunities to make getting the vaccine convenient.
"Whether it's the local mall, sports club, community event or pharmacy offering the vaccine, our aim is to be there with information, support and, in many cases, a mobile vaccination clinic.
"Convenience is key and, to support this, we've established many sites around the Bay which take walk-ins," he said.
"This is just one part of a real push over the next 12 weeks to give Bay communities plenty of opportunities to get vaccinated as we head into summer."
University of Canterbury modeller Professor Michael Plank told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend Tauranga was "fairly near the middle of the pack" for those who were fully vaccinated.
For those who were unvaccinated, Plank said it was "critical" to get people "into the system" for their first dose.
"We really need [the vaccination rate] to be as high as possible – 90 per cent and above.
"[The vaccine is] the best tool we have to fight against the coronavirus," he said.
"It's a really nasty virus. If you're unvaccinated, you're unprotected."
The Hits Bay of Plenty day show announcer Lauren Mabbett said Tauranga residents should get vaccinated to ensure their freedom in summer.
"We do not want to be in lockdown when Christmas rolls around and New Year," she said.
"We've got Black Clash happening next year at Bay Oval. We want to be able to go out and enjoy that kind of stuff. And the only way to do that is to get vaccinated."
Tauranga City Commission chairwoman Anne Tolley urged anyone who had not already been vaccinated to do so.
"Vaccination is our way out of this pandemic and, on an individual level, it's the best way to keep ourselves, our families, our friends and our workmates safe.
"It's easy, free and readily available – so don't wait, do it now."
Western Bay of Plenty mayor Gary Webber said he would like to see more vaccination services coming to the people.
"We are a rural district and we have several disadvantaged communities.
"When you're in the situation trying to chase the last percentage you're going to have to go out to the public to those who are not mobile, knock on their doors and meet their needs."
Webber urged residents in the region to support each other.
"It's a matter of encouraging your neighbours, your family and your friends. If you want to be bulletproof vaccination is the solution to getting past the pandemic we're in."
Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller was disappointed in the figures and encouraged everyone to make vaccination their priority.
"They have to prioritise it for their own family's sake and for the wider community.
"There will be those who will be unconvinced. They need to get on board this train,'' he said.
"We're renowned for our love for adventure and getting out and about and being part of nature. So you would think that because we all value that we should all value the freedoms the vaccine gives us.
"We've got an older population in comparison to the rest of the country and I would have thought that would be a strong motivator," Muller said.
"I don't know about other people but I'm tired of Covid. I'm tired of restrictions."
Muller asked that health officials look at every avenue to simplify the vaccination process.
"We've got to pull every lever that we can. I do think the walk-in clinics are good and people need to be aware of the venues and the times those clinics are open. We've got to keep communicating."
Tauranga MP Simon Bridges said he hoped Tauranga could increase its vaccination rates.
"I encourage everyone to vaccinate so we can avoid future lockdowns and open our country up. This will ensure people are healthier, fewer businesses go under, and families can reconnect with their loved ones around the world."