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Could the quickest path to becoming fully vaccinated against COVID-19 be the drive-thru lanes of fast food restaurants?

That’s the question health officials are exploring in New Zealand, where the government is committed to attaining a 90% vaccination rate for its 4.9 million citizens.

After experiencing six months without a new COVID case, the delta variant arrived in August, creating a modest surge in infections and prompting a national lockdown.

With new daily cases down to 15 by late last week, most restrictions had been lifted, and long lines began to form at drive-thru lanes in the nation with one of the world’s highest per-capita fast food consumption rates.

Acting on a suggestion from a citizen, health officials began viewing the 20- to 40-minute waiting periods experienced in fast food take-out lanes as opportunities to mix Pfizer with fries. By Friday, discussions had begun between the government and the company holding franchise agreements for Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut to have shots available to customers waiting to pick up their food.

It would seem that the “I don’t know what’s in it” argument used by anti-vaxxers would carry little weight for a person waiting in line to pick up a Crunchwrap Supreme.

While a deal with the major fast food chains was still in the works, the aromas of fresh coffee and frying bacon were used successfully last weekend to lure the un-jabbed to a mass-vaccination clinic in New Plymouth, a town in a section of New Zealand with the nation’s lowest vaccination rate.

While 342 shots were delivered during the 16-hour main event, 130 people were immunized between 7 and 9 a.m., when a food truck dispensed free bacon sandwiches, espresso and hot chocolate to those who agreed to get vaccinated early.

It’s worth giving a rollout here. Free speedboats, sports cars and riding mowers are getting to be in short supply.

Rick Steelhammer is a features reporter. He can be reached at 304-348-5169 or Follow @rsteelhammer on Twitter.

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