Sometimes it just takes that extra nudge.
Vaccines have been readily available for weeks now, but when Burke-Gilman Brewing, a brewery in Seattle’s Laurelhurst neighborhood, hosted a pop-up vaccine clinic, offering a (nearly) free beer for anyone getting a shot, the line stretched around the block.
The numbers weren’t huge compared to the city’s mass vaccine clinics — 44 people got shots at Burke-Gilman last Friday — but, every little bit counts.
Breweries and wineries across Washington now plan on launching vaccine incentive programs, trying to lure the reluctant or the just kinda lazy into getting inoculated against COVID-19.
Vaccines are free and health insurance is not required.
For breweries and wineries, the Washington Brewers Guild and the Washington Wine Institute plan to launch June campaigns dubbed pints for pokes and vino for vaccines.
Businesses will be able to participate in one of two ways: Either by hosting a pop-up vaccine clinic or by offering a free drink for the recently vaccinated.
At the urging of the two industry groups, the state Liquor and Cannabis Control Board, this week, temporarily eased restrictions that would have barred breweries, wineries and bars from offering a free drink in exchange for vaccination.
“We felt like we could be part of the solution, we have people come to our wineries every day, some of them may not be vaccinated,” said Josh McDonald, executive director of the Washington Wine Institute. “Perhaps they could get vaccinated at our places.”
Those restrictions — which, among other things prohibit bars from giving away drinks — were still in place last week, when Burke-Gilman Brewing hosted their clinic. So the brewery offered a beer for a dollar to anyone who got a shot.
“You’re allowed to sell them at cost,” said Kenneth Trease, co-owner of the brewery. “I said there’s about a dollar worth of grain and hops in there, so I’m going to sell it for a dollar to anybody who gets a shot.”
Trease had cold-called the Seattle Fire Department to ask about hosting a clinic and, much to his surprise, they got right back to him and were eager to do it.
“We just announced to everybody, the Fire Department’s going to come by,” Trease said. “And we had a line around the block and people had a great time.”
The whole thing took about an hour and a half.
Breweries and wineries join a smattering of businesses across the state, including most of Seattle’s pro-sports teams, in trying to ease and nudge holdouts into getting the shot.
The Mariners, most prominently, have made their center field bleachers a vaccinated-only section and are offering discounted tickets. The vaccine-only sections increase the still-limited capacity for home games by more than 50%. The team has also offered special entrances, a free T-shirt and 20% off food, drink and memorabilia at games this week for people with proof of vaccination.
The Sounders have held pop-up vaccine clinics at their home games, offering unvaccinated fans the chance to get the shot on their way in. This Sunday, they’re introducing a vaccinated-only seating section, which, unlike every other section in Lumen Field, will be sold at full capacity.
And the Seattle Kraken, who don’t yet have a completed arena or games to sell tickets to, are holding a vaccine clinic on Tuesday, at their team store on the south shore of Lake Union. Anyone who gets vaccinated at the clinic will get a 25% discount at the team store and will be entered into a drawing for free concert tickets at the yet-to-open Climate Pledge Arena.
A local ice cream truck, Seattle Happy Smacks, offered free ice cream to anyone getting a shot who wasn’t of drinking age.
Others are also ready to join in.
John Howie Restaurants (Seastar Restaurant, John Howie Steak, Whiskey by John Howie and Beardslee Public House) are offering a free drink, through June 6, to any customer presenting proof of full vaccination.
Tutta Bella pizzerias are also offering a free drink for those who get vaccinated between now and the end of June.
Bar Harbor, a restaurant in South Lake Union known for its lobster rolls, is offering a 10% discount in May to customers showing proof of full vaccination.
Craig Leuthold, owner of Maryhill Winery, plans to hold vaccination clinics at his tasting rooms in Woodinville, Vancouver and Spokane.
Each facility has a smaller “club room” attached to the main tasting room, and Leuthold said he’d like to have clinics in there Monday through Friday in June. They’ll offer a free wine tasting to anyone getting vaccinated.
“The reality is I’d like our world to get back to normal and I think that this is one way to do it. The more people that are vaccinated, the safer people are going to feel, the more our governor will feel he can fully reopen the economy and get things back to normal.”