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Shot for a shot: Tel Aviv bar offers a free drink for those getting the COVID-19 vaccine for the first time

By PINKY S. ICAMEN Published Feb 22, 2021 8:00 am

The bustling cosmopolitan city of Tel Aviv recently set up a vaccine station in a local gastro pub to entice those who were not yet vaccinated with free drinks if one gets his or her first COVID-19 vaccine shot on the spot.

Israel has become one of the world’s “model nations” with its rapid COVID-19 vaccine rollout, which started in late December 2020.

But even with over four million Israelis (out of its over nine million population and two-thirds of those eligible) who have now received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, authorities are stepping its efforts up a notch to attract young adults and those hesitant to get the jab to get vaccinated. According to the Israel Health Ministry, about 2.7 million have already received both doses.

Over the weekend, Tel Aviv set up a vaccine station in a local gastro pub called Jenia, and offered a free drink to those who went and got their first dose of the vaccine.

Representatives of national emergency organization Magen David Adom did pre-vaccine checks and administered the shots.

Some of the free drinks were reportedly non-alcoholic as a medical precaution. However, some Israeli media outlets have reported that patients had a choice between a free bottle of beer and a shot of a non-alcoholic peach juice.

A man gets his COVID-19 vaccine at Jenia gastro pub in Tel Aviv. Photo from NDTV

In a Times of Israel report, those who showed up at the pop-up vaccine station at Jenia gastro pub said they were initially hesitant to get vaccinated but what motivated them was getting the “Green Pass,” a government-issued certificate that will give its holders (who have received their two doses of the vaccine) access to gyms, sports and cultural events, places of worship, swimming pools and theaters.

This was not the first time local governments in Israel have incentivized inoculations.

Early last week, Tel Aviv, together with local restaurants, offered free food at pop-up vaccination centers to persuade those who were hesitant to be vaccinated to take the jab.

On the menu were free pizza, hummus and knafeh, a Middle Eastern dessert. Dozens of Israelis reportedly showed up at the pop-up vaccination centers.

In the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, the local government tried to encourage vaccination by serving free cholent (traditional Jewish stew) to residents. According to its municipal spokesperson, this move attracted three times the typical number of vaccine recipients.

Meanwhile, the Tel Aviv suburb of Holon enlisted DJs and raved up a party atmosphere to draw in the younger set to get the jab.

The Health Ministry has also tapped Israeli social media influencers to promote vaccination through a concert in an online video campaign. The ministry reported that the number of Israelis between the ages 16 and 30 that have been vaccinated are far below the national average.

Israel currently has over 750,000 COVID-19 cases with at least 5,500 deaths.

Before Israel’s vaccine rollout started in December, polls showed that many Israelis were hesitant to get the shots right away. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went on to be the first Israeli citizen to get the jab to encourage people to get vaccinated. Netanyahu is also positive that Israel would be the first country in the world to emerge from the coronavirus.

Banner image photos from NDTV and AFP