Beer for shots: Health department coming up with unique vaccine incentives

Updated: May. 10, 2021 at 12:03 AM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The owners of Earnest Beer Works in Toledo swore they would never have shots on their bar, but on Tuesday, they’re making an exception for Johnson & Johnson.

The Toledo-Lucas County Health Department mobile vaccination site will be in the parking lot on S. Detroit Ave. from 4-8 p.m. Tuesday. The first 100 people to get a shot will get a free pint at the brewery.

This is just one of a series of incentives being provided for people who roll up their sleeves.

As of Sunday morning, more than 150 million Americans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination or nearly 46% of the population. But demand has started to dwindle over the last few weeks, and health departments are coming up with new perks to get people vaccinated.

“You get your shot at Earnest on Tuesday, it’ll be a COVID vaccine, and then I will give you a beer,” says Scot Yarnell, owner at Earnest Brew Works.

“When they called me, I was kind of thrown what they were even talking about because it’s so new of an idea that the Health Department would be holding a vaccination site here,” he added.

The Health Department acknowledged this is an unconventional way of providing health care to the masses.

“We are trying new, creative ways to incentivize people to get the shot, especially younger people. Public health is trying to knock down all barriers and make it convenient as possible for those who haven’t gotten their vaccination yet. ... We are working to meet people where they are,” the department’s spokesperson said in a statement.

Some Toledo residents question whether this is a type of incentive that will actually convince people to get the shot.

“I personally haven’t gotten my vaccine yet. I will probably in the future. But a gift isn’t going to persuade me to do it,” says resident Kelsey Young.

Currently, more than 41% of Ohioans have started their vaccine. Earnest Brew Works is not the first to offer a kickback to push that number higher. Krispy Kreme has been offering free donuts since March for vaccinated people.

And attempts to get more people to COVID clinics will continue. The Health Department will be at Fifth Third Field on Friday offering shots, hoping to reach more young people.

“We have a lot of customers that work a lot and they’re busy so they don’t have the opportunity to get out and actually get the vaccine. So this will give them the chance. And it’s a nice way to spice up a Tuesday,” says Yarnell.

There is no appointment required to get a shot at Tuesday’s clinic.

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