As New Zealand races to vaccinate 90 per cent of the eligible population against Covid-19 by Christmas, New Zealand's top towns for vaccine uptake have been revealed. Exclusive Ministry of Health data shows the vaccine progress of 66 towns from Whāngārei to Invercargill. Megan Wilson and Maryana Garcia look at how Bay of Plenty towns rank as of September 29
Forty-two per cent of Rotorua's population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Data supplied by the Ministry of Health shows a further 34 per cent had received their first dose as of Wednesday.
Tauranga's vaccination rate is 39.7 per cent. The Western Bay of Plenty has 39.2 per cent of its population fully vaccinated.
University of Canterbury modeller Professor Michael Plank said Rotorua was "fairly near the middle of the pack" for those who were fully vaccinated.
For those who were unvaccinated, Plank said it was "critical" to get people "into the system" for their first dose.
"We really need [the vaccination rate] to be as high as possible – 90 per cent and above.
"It's the best tool we have to fight against the coronavirus," he said.
"It's a really nasty virus. If you're unvaccinated, you're unprotected."
On Rotorua's figures, The Hits Rotorua local radio host Paul Hickey said he hoped everyone who was fully vaccinated continued to encourage others to follow suit.
"We need to highlight the positives for individuals, whānau and the community as a whole, so we can move on (or back) to the future."
Singer Krissie Knap, who is fully vaccinated, said she would love to see Rotorua's vaccine rates rise.
"It was my choice to get it done for myself. I love to cuddle people and I'm in the entertainment business.
"I said to myself it's like having two flu [jabs] in three weeks."
Rotorua Lakes councillor Tania Tapsell said for her the vaccine was about doing what was best for our loved ones.
"I took my grandparents out for brunch and as we were sitting there talking it hit me that I could be putting them at risk one day."
Tapsell had observed a great community effort when it came to vaccinations.
"There seems to have been a big groundswell recently and some excellent work from Te Arawa to make vaccines accessible to people.
"It's been great to see the drive-in option for people and I'm hearing that employers have also been very supportive."
Tapsell said courageous conversations were needed to counteract social media misinformation.
"It's time for us to encourage friends and family to push past those uncertainties and direct them towards the vast amount of information out there that proves the vaccine is safe."
Rotorua Lakes District Health Board member and district councillor Merepeka Raukawa-Tait said Rotorua needed to "keep the pressure on".
"It's not much use complaining about lockdowns and freedom restrictions if you don't want to vaccinate. You can't have it both ways."
Raukawa-Tait said Covid-19 was no laughing matter and the messages needed to ramp up.
"I would encourage adults to think of their mokopuna at this time. If they're unsure, not yet convinced, do it for them.
"Step into the vaccination centre or marae clinic and get a jab to keep your whakapapa safe and alive."
Rotorua MP Todd McClay said vaccination was essential to avoid further lockdowns.
"If everybody can get their second vaccination as soon as possible we'll start to move into the territory where the risk of lockdowns is reduced."
McClay received his second vaccination dose in Te Puke last week.
"I call on all local people to make an appointment for their vaccination unless they have a strong medical reason. We need to do this so we can get on with rebuilding."
McClay said another lockdown would mean the end for some Rotorua businesses.
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said a push was needed to get as many people vaccinated as possible.
"We definitely need to get those numbers up. We each need to do our bit for the benefit of all."
Chadwick said getting vaccinated was very easy in Rotorua through the Lakes District Health Board operation and pop-up vaccination centres run by the likes of Te Arawa.
"I've been along to see these and there's a great sense among people, once they've had their vaccination, of doing their bit for the community."
With 42 per cent of the town's population being fully vaccinated, Taupō comes in 35th place on the list.
Mayor David Trewavas said it was a start and expressed his commitment to supporting the vaccination efforts.
"If you can't get a ride to the vaccination centre, give me a ring and I'll organise some transport for you. My mobile phone number is always available."
Trewavas said authorities were trying to make getting the jab as easy as possible.
"The vaccination centre is easy to find and you might not have a booking but they're very accommodating up there. They'll sort it all out very quickly."
Trewavas said vaccination was the simple and easy way to look after the community.
"Think of the people around you. Do it for your workmates. Do it for the people who can't earn a living until this is over."