COVID-19: Vaccine research insights

This research is part of an ongoing series that looks into New Zealanders’ attitudes and public sentiment towards the COVID-19 vaccine.

Published date: 17 February 2021


In 2020, Horizon Research, in association with the School of Population Health, University of Auckland, was commissioned to survey New Zealanders’ attitudes and sentiment towards COVID-19 vaccines.

Two distinct but related online surveys were undertaken:

  • 1,451 respondents between 24 and 28 September 2020
  • 1,438 respondents between 1 and 4 December 2020.

Key insights

The following are some of the key insights in the findings:

Accepting a vaccine

  • 69 percent (an estimated 2,487,900 adults) of respondents are prepared to receive a ‘well-tested and approved’ COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Uptake is likely to be highest among those aged 65+.

Barriers to uptake

  • 24 percent of respondents indicated that they would be unlikely to have a COVID-19 vaccine if offered.
  • 16 percent of New Zealand adults will not accept an offered vaccine.
  • Between the first and the second Horizon Research reports, there is a slight increase in overall vaccine hesitancy (if not a reduction in overall ‘acceptance’ numbers).
  • Pasifika and Māori have less confidence in the safety and quality of the vaccine and of its protection.

People who are unlikely to take an offered COVID-19 vaccine are more likely to:

  • be female
  • have a lower household income than those who are likely to take a vaccine if offered
  • have lower educational qualifications than those who are likely to take a vaccine if offered
  • be a parent with children in their household.

Māori, Pasifika and Other European, and people who are 35–44 years, are less willing to take a follow-up vaccine.

In December, 72 percent (2,574,200) of respondents are prepared to have a follow-up dose if required, up three percent from September.

18 percent (an estimated 652,600 adults) are unlikely to have a follow-up dose if required.

Respondents of Māori, Pasifika and ‘Other European’ ethnicities had lower than average willingness to take a follow-up vaccine.


The major reasons for hesitancy towards a vaccine are concerns regarding the vaccine’s safety. This is particularly the case for females.

When considering whether to take a COVID-19 vaccine, the top four thoughts that New Zealanders have are about potential side effects.

A third of people believe vaccines can be approved without knowing all the potential side effects.


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