Three-quarters of New Zealanders say they would get the Covid-19 vaccine once it becomes available, new research shows.

But only half would be willing to pay for it, the Massey University study found.

"Overall, New Zealanders exhibit positive attitudes towards vaccination and are inclined to get vaccinated," said Dr Vishnu Menon, a researcher at Massey's School of Communications, Journalism and Marketing.

"However, they would need reassurance about the safety of a newly-introduced vaccine."


The study found that 74 per cent of New Zealanders intended to get the vaccine, which was higher than the United States (64 per cent), the UK (53 per cent) and Germany (61 per cent). Just 52 per cent of people still planned to get it if they had to pay.

Maori were less likely to get the vaccine once it was available. The study showed 36 per cent of Maori would not get it, compared to 26 per cent overall.

Among the concerns raised by people about the vaccine were that they needed more time to assess the safety of it, were concerned about possible side-effects or feared getting infected with Covid-19 from the vaccine.

"Other ... comments on reasons to not get a coronavirus vaccine include lack of trust, belief in conspiracy theories and a feeling that the testing is rushed," Menon said.

A majority of New Zealanders supported penalties for people who refused to get the vaccine, including an international travel ban (61 per cent) and restrictions on being in public spaces. Half of people surveyed did not want unvaccinated children to attend school.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she does not plan to make Covid-19 vaccination compulsory when it becomes available in New Zealand. Photo / Dom Thomas/RNZ
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she does not plan to make Covid-19 vaccination compulsory when it becomes available in New Zealand. Photo / Dom Thomas/RNZ

New Zealanders' willingness to get immunised was still slightly lower than the ideal benchmark of 80 per cent uptake required for herd immunity.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said he intended to make the country's vaccine, once available, "as mandatory as you can possibly make it".

But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is not as keen on compulsory vaccination.

"We haven't done that to date because we've actually been able to get the kind of take-up we need to provide herd immunity ... and I have every expectation we'll be able to do that in New Zealand without needing a mandate."


Experts in New Zealand have expressed concerns the country might not reach an uptake level ideally needed to be as high as 80 per cent if too many Kiwis are fearful.

But director general of health Ashleigh Bloomfield said that if vaccines were made available in New Zealand, uptake was likely to be good enough for herd immunity.

The anti-vaxx movement was not the same as people with "vaccine hesitancy", he said - the latter would get vaccinated if the vaccine was accessible and good information was provided.

The Government has already poured $37 million into securing a vaccine for New Zealand, including $5m for manufacturing one here, and $10m for local research.

Alongside the funding, the Government has put in place a vaccine strategy, aimed at landing enough doses for Kiwis at the earliest possible time.

New Zealand is also part of the Covax alliance, which has a goal of delivering two billion doses of safe, effective and approved vaccines by the end of next year.


But it might be that we end up piggy-backing on Australia's deal with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.

The Massey study was based on the responses of 1000 New Zealanders, and was undertaken during alert level 1.