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COVID vaccination uptake for working age MSD clients

The following updates examine vaccine uptake among working age main benefit clients of MSD. The analysis contains official Ministry of Health COVID Immunisation Register vaccination data, produced under a cross-agency Integrated Data Infrastructure project. The project has Statistics New Zealand, and ethics approval. The data is completely anonymous and contains no information that could identify any individual. This is a one off publication of a time-limited series of analysis.

Proactive release of vaccination analysis


Since November 2021, MSD has produced six iterations of reporting on the vaccination take-up rates of our clients. MSD has access to Ministry of Health COVID Immunisation Register vaccination data through a cross-agency Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) project created by the Social Wellbeing Agency (SWA). This project has been approved by Statistics New Zealand and has received ethics approval.

The IDI is a large research database run by Statistics New Zealand. It includes a range of information on people’s interactions with different government departments.

Access to the IDI is strictly managed by Statistics New Zealand. All identifying information about people, like their names, is removed. Researchers also need to show how their work using this data is in the public interest.

It is important to note the vaccination status of individual clients is not captured on MSD’s client management systems, unless it is voluntarily disclosed - for example, in discussions about job seeking. This analysis provides an anonymous, high-level, regional overview with limited demographic information only, and is not used for operational purposes.

Having access to this information supports MSD decision-making and service delivery by better targeting efforts to increase vaccine take-up amongst our clients. The work also allows us to identify areas and groups that may have higher demand for welfare support while self-isolating, due to low vaccination rates and increased risk of COVID-19 exposure.

We are proactively releasing this analysis as part of MSD’s commitment to transparency and openness, recognising there is public interest in this information.

Findings [1]

Working age main benefit clients have relatively low rates of vaccination take up. As at 15 February 2021, 74% of benefit clients were fully vaccinated [2], while 78% had received at least one dose. This compares to a full vaccination rate of 94% for all of New Zealand, based on Ministry of Health estimates for the same period.

The vaccination uptake of main benefit clients has grown over time, with full vaccination rates increasing by 44% since our first report (30% of main benefit clients were fully vaccinated as of 12 October). Main benefit clients have seen slightly stronger growth in vaccine uptake than the total population in this time, reflecting their lower overall rates.

Some groups have lower rates of vaccination uptake than others. Groups with notably low vaccination rates include recipients of Jobseeker Support – Work Ready (JS-WR), Sole Parent Support and the Young Parent Payment; clients aged between 25-34; clients who identify as Māori; and those receiving hardship assistance payments, in particular Emergency Housing Special Needs Grants.

Patterns of age, ethnicity and regional distributions for main benefit clients largely follow overall national trends, although from a lower level.


  1. These results are not official statistics. They have been created for research purposes from the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) which is carefully managed by Stats NZ. For more information about the IDI please visit www.stats.govt.nz/integrated-data.
  2. Received two doses.
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