TAMPA, Fla. - The city of Tampa is turning its focus on getting young people vaccinated against COVID-19 by bringing shots to them in places they're likely to already be – like Ybor City on a Friday night.
The ‘Vaccy and Vacay’ pop-up vaccination site opened at 5 p.m. at 16th Street and 7th Avenue and closed at 9.
It was meant to feel like a happy hour or party atmosphere with a DJ playing tunes. The city partnered with the state to offer the shot for a shot: get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and walk away with a $5 voucher to use at nearby establishments.
"It’s all about creating that normalcy, creating that celebration around receiving the vaccine," said Janelle McGregor with the city of Tampa.
Officials hope the end result is more fully vaccinated residents ahead of Memorial Day weekend vacations, especially those age 18 to 24.
"These are the age groups in whom we are seeing the highest rates of infection, and of course when you couple that with the fact that in this age group we’re seeing the lowest vaccination rates," explained Dr. Jason Salemi, University of South Florida associate professor of epidemiology.
He says only about 1 in 10 of this age group are fully vaccinated, adding that innovative ways to encourage and educate this group about the COVID-19 shot is key to increasing those numbers.
"Let’s break down the barriers to getting vaccinated. Let’s dispel misinformation and disinformation. Let’s talk about the importance of vaccination," Salemi said.
McGregor added, "We just want to continue to try every out-of-the-box idea every creative option that’s out there to make sure that everyone in our community has access to this invaluable medication."
The ‘Vaccy and Vacay’ shot for a shot pop-up will be out again Saturday, May 8 starting at noon, with a live DJ and giveaways from 5 - 9 p.m.