Concerns have been raised about a flyer recently dropped into Whanganui letterboxes claiming to contain "important Covid vaccine facts", and there are worries the flyer will make people "more fearful".
The flyer, which has prompted 21 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority, contains "sweeping statements not backed up by evidence", according to the Whanganui Chief Medical Officer of Health.
Retired nurse Rosemary Thompson originally threw the flyer in the bin after it arrived but its content alarmed her so much she felt the need to warn others.
"I was actually sickened," Thompson said.
"Some of what they are saying on here is really upsetting, especially when we know that the vaccination programmes that have rolled out in many countries have been so successful."
Whanganui Chief Medical Officer of Health Patrick O'Connor said vaccines hadn't caused any of the "outrageous problems" referred to in the flyer.
"They just don't do these things," O'Connor said.
"These are sweeping statements not backed up by evidence."
Voices for Freedom, which is distributing the flyer, was co-founded by Claire Deeks, who ran as a candidate for Advance New Zealand at the previous election.
"This had been planned in advance and was well timed to coincide with the Government's new vaccine campaign," Deeks told RNZ.
"The resulting funds enabled the printing and distribution of two million flyers nationwide."
Thompson said the flyer was "a whole lot of hogwash".
"I'm sad that there are vulnerable people in the community, especially those in their 70s and 80s who are going to read this and think it's an excuse not to have the vaccine.
"Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but it has to be with correct facts."
O'Connor said people were already "voting with their bared upper arms", in regard to the vaccine.
"Ten per cent of the world's population has had at least one dose of some form of Covid-19 vaccine.
"In countries with high vaccination rates, the numbers are coming down.
"Every study has shown that if you take this vaccine you are much less likely than an unvaccinated person to get Covid-19. The vaccine will prevent over 90 per cent of cases.
"We are fortunate to have this vaccine in New Zealand. It's the one that's been given the most around the world, it's highly effective, with a very good safety profile."
Age Concern Whanganui manager Michelle Malcolm said all their staff had been fully vaccinated, and they wouldn't have done so if they thought "there was something untoward" about it.
"People who don't have access to the paper or to TV may believe things like this, and that's worrying," Malcolm said.
"If anyone is concerned, please contact us and we can send out information directly from the Ministry of Health.
"People shouldn't be reading things that come via their letterbox regarding the vaccine, unless it comes from the ministry."
Malcolm said the flyer drop would only make people "more fearful".
"Covid-19 is scary enough for people anyway, especially when you see what's going on overseas.
"To then scaremonger even more is just cruel."
Te Oranganui was aware of the flyers being dropped, chief executive Wheturangi Walsh-Tapiata said.
"I've heard that they've been very diligent in making sure they go in every letterbox throughout the city," Walsh-Tapiata said.
"From a Māori community perspective, while everybody has an individual choice, what we are doing is attempting to ensure that everybody has really good information.
"We have key people who we trust come and talk to us, answer our questions, and allay our fears, rather than just a pamphlet."
Walsh-Tapiata said concerns around the vaccine could stem from the fact that a large portion of the population had never received one of any kind before.
"Fear is a pretty prominent thing in our lives, isn't it?
"Those who have had a vaccination will know that our arms might get a bit sore afterwards, and we might feel a bit headachy.
"They say that we should go 'yee ha' if we are feeling a slight side effect, because that means the vaccine is doing its job."
The flyer is now before the Advertising Standards Authority.
Its chief executive, Hilary Souter, said they had processed 21 complaints about the flyer.
"The chair of the Complaints Board decides if there is a possible case to answer, and she has determined that there is," Souter said.
"We've requested a response to those complaints from the advertiser."