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Little admits Māori Covid vaccine rates have to improve

Health Minister Andrew Little has conceded the Government will "have to" do more to increase the Covid-19 vaccination rates among Māori in New Zealand.

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Health Minister Andrew Little said misinformation is hindering their efforts, but the Government is pushing forward. Source: Breakfast

Little told Breakfast the current low vaccination numbers among Māori is "the big challenge" facing the rollout of the vaccine. 

"We've just got more to do. I've had personal contact with providers and leaders asking, 'what more can we do?' and there's a couple of ideas flowing around, but we have to get those numbers up.

"I know that there are some regions where the Māori population is a little more resistant because there's theories going around about what the vaccination is - which it isn't - and we have to break through that."

Minister of Health Andrew Little (file photo). Source: Getty

Little said New Zealand's way forward in the pandemic and Kiwis' best chances of reducing heavy restrictions is vaccination.

"We just need everybody, as many people as we can, to get vaccinated. We need the maximum number," he said.

"There's a lot of respects in which we've led the world on response to Covid; the least number of deaths, the least number of hospitalisations - we've done incredibly well by international standards.

"So let's lead the world in vaccination rates, let's be the country that gets up way in the 90s [percentile] and let's do it for the right reasons."

The Health Minister added those feeling at least indifferent about the vaccine should take in the broader picture about what the jab really means.

"Don't get vaccinated for yourself - it's actually for your whānau and your community and, for Māori, it's for your kaumatua and kuia [elders] and it's keeping them safe. 

"Because if you get infected and pass it on and some of them get infected, they are in hospital and they are in intensive care and it's much harder for them.

"Vaccination is about safety of all of us, not just individual safety."