As New Zealand's vaccine rollout slowly sets sail, there have been concerns about public hesitancy over jabs.
Our ship has left the dock with a simplified rollout plan focusing on the highly effective two-shot Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. The immediate focus is to dose two million people in the next four months.
So far about 265,000 doses - enough for about 132,500 full vaccinations - have landed and about 20,000 people have received the first of their two jabs.
It still feels as though we are meandering through the harbour - Australia has vaccinated at least 100,000 people and imported 1.3 million doses.
The decision to use a single vaccine is probably about more than streamlining processes. It's egalitarian - we all get the same type of protection - and easier to publicise. We don't even need to debate which one is better and the fact that trials have been conducted at different times makes comparisons difficult.
Even as the plan to bring in 8.5 million doses is nailed down, a survey suggests Kiwis could take some convincing to just get a shot. An Ipsos poll found that only 51 per cent of people were likely to get it.
Of those surveyed, 18 per cent said they were unlikely to get a shot, while 24 per cent were still unsure. There were concerns about the quickness of vaccine development and potential side effects.
Ipsos said that 59 per cent of the respondents supported making the vaccine mandatory for people over 18.
That followed the release this week of polling data from last year.
An education campaign will be necessary and being able to focus on arguably the best vaccine option of all - which had 95 per cent efficacy in trials and is performing well in real-time data - will make it easier.
The Pfizer vaccine was able to neutralize a potentially more contagious variant first discovered in Brazil, according to a new study published in the New Engand Journal of Medicine. https://t.co/p0HntXoXtf— Axios (@axios) March 10, 2021
Part of the problem is that information on how the vaccines are performing is gradually dribbling in, and probably not getting through to most people.
A good comparison for New Zealand is Israel, which has about nine million people and has quickly managed to fully vaccinate more than 40 per cent of the population, mainly using the Pfizer jab. There is a lot of data available to look at but essentially deaths, serious case numbers and infections have dropped.
Vaccine hesitancy in the United States is decreasing as the rollout keeps ramping up there. One poll found that 55 per cent of adults either say they want a vaccine or have already had a dose. That's an increase from 47 per cent in January and 34 per cent in December. The US is reporting about 55,000 new coronavirus cases daily, the lowest rolling seven-day average since mid-October.
Meet Özlem Türeci and Ugur Sahin, the "science superstars" behind the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine.— DW News (@dwnews) March 9, 2021
The BioNTech founders will receive Germany's Order of Merit, one of the country's highest honors. pic.twitter.com/6XYlCfgVle
In New Zealand, we have been in such a protective bubble, most of us haven't had to contend with death, hospital admissions or long-haul symptoms from Covid-19.
Overseas, governments and health experts are encouraging vaccine take-up by dangling carrots of what the shots allow people to do - which we have been able to do here.
For us, vaccinations should eventually mean less concern about the prospect of infections and lockdowns. And further down the track, there's the huge incentive of international travel.
The more people learn about the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the more concerns about it should ease.