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New Zealand turns to street gangs in effort to drive up vaccination rates

Country has set ambitious 90% vaccination benchmark in major campaign.

October 23, 2021 11:04am

Updated: October 23, 2021 11:11am

The New Zealand government has begun to recruit street gangs in its effort to vaccinate the vast majority of its population in a bid to squash the coronavirus there.

The island nation has become globally known for its aggressive, uncompromising anti-COVID policy over the last twenty months or so, using protracted lockdowns and quarantine measures in pursuit of a "zero-covid" policy. 

In a shift toward a more practical mitigation policy, the country has set its sights on a still-ambitious 90% vaccination rate as a means to return to the pre-COVID normal. 

The New York Times reported this week that authorities have begun turning to the country's street gangs as a means to drive up vaccine rates in hard-to-reach populations. 

"We don't traditionally have ways to connect with them," one official told the paper. "And by finding the people that can and giving them the information, you've got a much higher chance of being successful."

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