SAN MATEO (KPIX) – Health officials across California are looking for ways to convince unvaccinated people to get the injection. San Mateo County has come up with an incentive that could appeal to people from all over the Bay Area – at least those who yearn for summer.
Nothing says “summer” like a festival, and when San Mateo decided to have a festival this year, the district health department realized what a great marketing opportunity it would be for its vaccination program.
“The second we found out we could host a true walk-in exhibition, we pulled the trigger,” said Dana Stoehr, CEO of the San Mateo Event Center and Fairgrounds. “We made it. We were the first out of the gate. We’re the biggest and only summer fair in the Bay Area this summer. Everyone pushed back, but we stepped on the gas and said, ‘Go’.”
The district’s health authorities make the most of it. At a mobile vaccination clinic outside the door, anyone who gets a vaccination gets free entry for themselves and a young guest, in addition to $ 20 in free food and four trips down the middle.
“About two or three weeks ago we decided that we would try to have a vaccination clinic at the show,” said Trish Erwin, clinic operations manager, “trying to get the last 20 percent of people who need their vaccines to get.
Cynthia Castillo had postponed her vaccination after hearing of long lines at the Coliseum, but Johnson & Johnson’s one-time vaccination and a day off at the show were an offer she couldn’t refuse.
“That was definitely an incentive today,” said Cynthia. “It just made it the way it should be.”
Thirteen-year-old Kinsley Graybow wasn’t nearly as excited about getting a chance at the fair as his father Troy.
“When you come to a fair there are all kinds of free things and unexpected surprises,” said Troy Graybow, “so I think it’s a great idea.”
Inside, the exhibits were a bit smaller and spread out, but the middle was still exciting and of course there was the food. Being among a crowd again felt like a little bit of normalcy.
“To me, I’m overwhelmed and will stay out here all day!” said Michael Avila from San Jose. “I’m going to eat tons of food and I’ll take it away and I’ll just keep eating!”
The 17-year-old Gabriel Baumbach perhaps best summed it up.
“Last year we couldn’t be here because of COVID and it wasn’t really safe,” he said. “But now I’m back!”
Likewise the fair.
The free vaccination clinic will be open through the weekend and Thursday through Sunday next week.