By Alice Angeloni, Local Democracy Reporter
Almost 80 percent of Tairāwhiti's privately employed port workers were unvaccinated three weeks ago, according to data released by National's Covid-19 spokesperson Chris Bishop yesterday.
Gisborne had the highest rate of unvaccinated private sector border workers in any port around the country as at July 22.
At that time, 56 of 71 private sector border workers at Eastland Port had not received a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Fifteen had received both doses.
It comes as the Government investigates how 87 unvaccinated port workers in Tauranga boarded a ship carrying 11 Covid-19-positive crew members.
The rate of unvaccinated port workers in Tairāwhiti has come to attention 10 days after the Government's July 12 announcement to extend the vaccine health order to cover private sector port workers.
The order gives Government border workers a deadline of August 26 to receive their first dose of the Covid vaccine, while those who are privately employed have until September 30.
Hauora Tairāwhiti district health board chief executive Jim Green said vaccinations for private sector border workers would continue over the next couple of weeks and would be on track to meet the September deadline.
Hauora Tairāwhiti could not provide updated vaccination figures before publication.
An Eastland Port worker who did not want to be identified said this morning he understood some stevedores, who load and unload ships, were looking for new work because they did not want to get vaccinated.
"Some of them tell me they don't want to do it because they don't want to be told what to do," the worker said.
"We know that the odd one has decided to look for another job. I honestly believe some of them will leave the job because they just don't want to do it.
"That in itself tells me you're not going to get over this problem in a big hurry."
In July, Mr Green said vaccine hesitancy was still a factor among Gisborne's port workers.
"Hauora Tairāwhiti will keep working with employers, workers, the Ministry and the port company to roll out the vaccine to all workers who are now covered under the expanded border order," he said.
On July 13, Mr Green estimated 50 port workers still needed to be vaccinated.