Dinner and a shot: Pierce County and restaurants team up to open the next vaccine frontier

In Pierce County’s quest for at least a 70 percent vaccination rate against COVID-19, the county will host walk-in clinics at select restaurants.

The initiative has its own website: getvaxxedwa.com.

It also has an extra incentive: Visitors to one of these pop-ups can enter a drawing to win two round-trip ticket vouchers on Alaska Airlines.

The Washington Hospitality Association partnered with the Seattle-based airline and the county’s Department of Emergency Management to plan the events, a shift from large drive-thru or walk-in clinics at sites like the Tacoma Dome. The Washington Brewers Guild recently launched a similar program called Pokes for Pints, helping breweries plan pop-up clinics with the enticement of a free beer. (Harmon Brewing in downtown Tacoma hosts a Moderna event June 10, 3-7 p.m.)

Black Bear Diner in Puyallup hosted the first of the pop-up clinics Tuesday afternoon, followed by Carr’s Restaurant in Lakewood Wednesday.

On Friday, June 4, Paradise Lanes will host a walk-in clinic from 4-7 p.m. with a bonus prize: Stop for a vaccine, and enjoy two free hours of bowling for up to four people.

General manager Mike Clark told The News Tribune it was easy to say yes to hosting. “The sooner that we can get to most people vaccinated, the better our business will be in the long run.”

The Parkland entertainment center also houses a restaurant, lounge and pro shop, making it a “unique venue” that attracts a wide swath of the community, he said. In addition to adult leagues, the bowling alley doubles as home-court lanes for six high school girls’ teams.

Friday’s event will administer the Pfizer vaccine, currently the only one with emergency approval by the Food and Drug Administration for children as young as 12 years old. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are available to anyone 18 years or older.

“The goal is to support our community in reaching 70 percent as soon as possible,” said county communications director Libby Catalinich. “We wanted high traffic places so we could bring vaccines to people where they would already be rather than have them come to a clinic location. It’s all about making it convenient.”

Added Clark, “Being on the ropes for as long as we have been, it’s kinda taken a toll on our business. But our partners here are committed to survival.”

According to the most recent data from the state Department of Health, 63 percent of Washingtonians 16 years and older have initiated their vaccinations. The goal is to reach 70 percent in time for June 30, when pandemic restrictions will be lifted statewide.

Despite “tremendous progress,” said the state secretary of health Dr. Umair Shah in a release Thursday, “There are still far too many people who have not started vaccination.”

Gov. Jay Inslee also announced some vaccine incentives — from gift cards to smart speakers, college tuition money and sports tickets, to a multi-winner lottery for $250,000 and up to $1 million in a grand prize drawing. Anyone who receives a vaccine in June or has already received a vaccine will be entered to win prizes, based on immunization data from the state health department.

Local restaurants previously teamed up with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department on a mask-up campaign around the holidays, when dining rooms were closed.

GET VAXXED WA — RESTAURANT SCHEDULE

Detailsgetvaxxedwa.com

▪ June 4, 4-7 p.m. at Paradise Lanes, 12505 Pacific Ave. S., Tacoma

▪ June 6, 4-7 p.m. at Puerto Vallarta Mexican Restaurant, 220 Center St. E, Eatonville

▪ June 8, 2-5 p.m. at Hops’n’Drops, 1402 Lake Tapps Pkwy E., Auburn

▪ June 9, 4-7 p.m. at Table 47/Ocean 5, 5268 Point Fosdick Dr., Gig Harbor ($10 game card for all attendees)

▪ June 9, 4-7 p.m. at Silver Cloud Inn, 2317 Ruston Way, Tacoma

▪ June 10, 4-7 p.m. at Azteca Restaurant, 4801 Tacoma Mall Boulevard, Tacoma

▪ June 11, 3-7 p.m. at Point Ruston (outside Farrelli’s Pizza), 5104 Grand Loop, Ruston

This story was originally published by The News Tribune.