New Zealand: The government relies on gangs to succeed in its vaccination campaign

New Zealand: The government relies on gangs to succeed in its vaccination campaign

New Zealand is ready to do anything to get out of a troubling situation. Eager to vaccinate 90% of the eligible population, the government asked gang leaders for help.

While 86% of the eligible population has already received at least one dose, the New Zealand government is now facing an obstacle to reaching the 90% mark. The gang community, made up mostly of Maori and Pacific Islanders, is actually less likely to comply with vaccination efforts. Over the past two months, multiple outbreaks have been reported among members of several organizations.

As a result, the police and the Ministry of Health worked with the gangs to help vaccination and contact tracing. Two leaders of the Mongrel Mob, the country’s most dangerous gang, have been given “passes” at the border so they can move freely around the island, as I reported before. The New York Times.

“Our priority is to stop Covid-19”

Chris Hepkins, the minister responsible for managing the pandemic, acknowledged it was an “extraordinary”, but necessary, practice. Our priority is to stop Covid-19 in its tracks. This means that we have to deal with the virus.”

Some gang leaders also acted independently to aid in the vaccination effort. The latter have put members of their community in touch with health officials, via Facebook Live, which makes it possible to prevent risks associated with the pandemic. The heads of other organizations have brought vaccines directly to the communities themselves.

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of gang membership in the world. There are about 8,000 gang members in the country (out of about 5 million people), according to the latest police estimates, and many of them live in urban poverty.

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