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New Zealand needs to get vaccinated now to beat Delta - and that's why the NZ Herald and NZME are launching The 90% Project today.
A very high vaccination rate is vital for us to make our population safe from serious disease, keep our hospitals running and gradually allow our economy and border to open up to the world again.
So NZME titles have joined forces to work for at least 90 per cent full vaccination against Covid-19 in our eligible population by Christmas.
The campaign is presented by the NZ Herald, Newstalk ZB, Northern Advocate, Bay of Plenty Times, Rotorua Daily Post, Hawke's Bay Today, Whanganui Chronicle and NZME's community papers.
Over the next few weeks and months, we'll bring you all you need to know about why vaccination protects against Covid, how to get vaccinated yourself and how to help friends and whānau understand why they should do the same.
We'll have interviews with both political and community leaders. A big focus of the campaign will be to ensure that under-represented communities, including young people, Māori and Pasifika, get the same high rates of protection as all New Zealanders.
Health and science experts say we need at least 90 per cent vaccination coverage in the eligible population to have a fighting chance against Delta.
At 90 per cent, hospital admissions would still rise and people will still die from Covid, but these numbers would be much worse at lower rates of vaccination.
STORY CONTINUES AFTER LIVE BLOG:
There are 11 new cases in the community today taking us past the grim milestone of 1000 cases in the Delta outbreak. Two of today's cases are unlinked at this stage.
University of Auckland vaccinologist Associate Professor Helen Petousis-Harris said the ideal percentage was "way into the 90s" but aiming for a figure above 90 per cent was a good start.
"We do better than [90 per cent] with our childhood immunisations, right?" she said.
"So, let's not set the bar below where we want it."
Immunisation Advisory Centre director Dr Nikki Turner said the key was to vaccinate as many people as possible, regardless of targets.
"If you get 90 per cent, you could do 91 per cent. We should aim for the best we can get."
Models estimate about 98 per cent coverage would be needed to achieve herd immunity.
The Government has avoided setting a public target, particularly after Australia's 70 per cent mark was widely condemned by experts there as too low.
But today Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said he backed the Herald campaign.
"I welcome any campaign that will encourage people to get vaccinated," he said.
Yesterday, director general of health Ashley Bloomfield said we should be aiming to pass 90 per cent.
"We need to be at or above 90 percent . . . and that is why we have geared up our system to make sure we can deliver to that level. This is mission-critical," Bloomfield said.
Ninety per cent is regarded as ambitious, given current rates across the globe.
The world's most vaccinated countries this week included Portugal (80 per cent), the United Arab Emirates (78 per cent), Qatar, Singapore and Spain (75 per cent) Denmark (73 per cent) Uruguay and Chile (72 per cent), Belgium (71 per cent) and Ireland (70 per cent).
They were followed by Canada (68 per cent) and the UK (64 per cent), while the US was sitting around 53 per cent.
Australia's full coverage - 33.5 per cent – is close to ours, although New Zealand's rate is climbing fast, from 23 per cent at the start of the latest community outbreak to 37 per cent this week.
At present, 72 per cent of New Zealanders have had at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
NZME - with an audience of 3.2 million across its platforms – plays a vital role in helping lead New Zealand into the next phase of the Covid response.
"We take that responsibility seriously. This is one of our most ambitious - and important - campaigns in decades," NZME managing editor Shayne Currie said.
"A 90 per cent vaccination rate will open New Zealanders' front doors - and our borders - to freedom and put businesses and the economy on an upward trajectory.
"But critically, it will save lives and once again allow us to prosper and thrive."
NZME head of cultural partnerships Lois Turei said a big part of the campaign was about engaging tangata whenua and Pasifika people with aroha and inclusion and recognising the need for targeted help to get the vaccine.
"That's our kaupapa - it's unapologetically about protecting tangata whenua and our Pasifika cousins."
NZME chief executive Michael Boggs said that every New Zealander who rolled up their sleeves and got vaccinated brought Aotearoa another step closer to being free from the worst that Covid-19 can throw us.
"Getting as many Kiwis vaccinated as possible is a project all of New Zealand Media and Entertainment's radio networks, digital platforms and social networks will get behind – to protect ourselves, our whanau and our way of life.
"We've also seen just how difficult lockdowns are for employers. Wholeheartedly supporting a project to get Kiwis to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated will help ensure our commercial partners don't just survive but thrive - protecting jobs and livelihoods."