A survey by the Ministry of Health earlier this year found up to a quarter of New Zealanders were reluctant to have the vaccine against Covid-19. Sixteen per cent said they would flat-out refuse.
The research showed those most likely to say no would be female, have a lower household income, fewer education qualifications, or be a parent with a child at home. Those who say they won't roll their sleeves up for the programme are mostly concerned about the safety of the vaccine and afraid of side effects.
Officials believed objectors may have been persuaded by disinformation that is abloom on social media.
Director of Pacific Health Gerardine Clifford-Lidstone told RNZ that officials had been tracking social media for a while and could see a level of scepticism - particularly in the Facebook comments section of the 1pm Covid briefings.
This week, David Fisher reports in the Weekend Herald on Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare's visit to the Far North, where he was asked: "Is it true the Government will force everyone to be vaccinated?"
His response that "no, that's not true" may have mollified those in the room but it's a sad reality that social media could overturn this reassurance in a few clicks of the keyboard.
Last month, Facebook, Twitter and Google were urged by a US lawmaker to ban a dozen people who were spreading the vast majority of disinformation about Covid vaccinations.
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Pennsylvania Representative Mike Doyle asked for the accounts to be removed during a US congressional session on how the firms were dealing with fake news. The accounts have not been deleted.
The Centre for Countering Digital Hate has analysed more than 812,000 Facebook and Twitter vaccine-related posts and found 65 per cent of anti-vaccine posts came from this "disinformation dozen".
Much of what is being shared in New Zealand comes from these anti-vaxxers. We have locked down, socially isolated and worked to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. We need to be similarly vigilant in preventing the transmission of disinformation.