LAS VEGAS (AP)
Dressed in a French-inspired lingerie costume and high heels, dancer JoJo Hamner waited patiently to get her COVID-19 vaccine in a line that meandered past a hostess booth glistening under a red-lighted chandelier.
When it was his turn, Hamner sat down in a chair and grabbed a small feather duster that complemented his costume as a nurse administered the shot into his already exposed arm.
Hamner then waited nearby for the required 15 minutes of observation, sitting with other vaccinated on leather chairs between plush purple booths, vacant stages and empty poles at this Las Vegas strip club.
“It’s just the most Vegas thing I’ve ever seen,” she said of the experience.
Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club, with a spinning disco ball casting rainbow colors on the walls but more lights on than usual, was an unconventional site for a walk-in vaccination clinic. But as government officials and health workers try to respond to slowing demand for COVID-19 vaccines, they are increasingly turning to creative ways to get people to come forward and get vaccinated.
“It’s just another way to access our people,” said JoAnn Rupiper, the head nurse for the Southern Nevada Health District, who oversaw the walk-in clinic. “It might attract people who like its novelty, I guess.”
The clinic opened for several hours on Friday evening, administering injections to around 100 people before the strip club opened for its regular activities. Several club employees, including Hamner, a topless earning dancer, had their picture taken at the clinic with members of the public.
Some people who showed up for the shot admitted they were reluctant to get the shot, but decided to do so if it meant going to a strip club.
Roberto Montti, who lives close to the club, said he delayed his shot but realized he would have to get it in order to resume his love of travel.
Montti said he probably would have had his chance in a more mundane location, but decided to go to the Hustler Club because it felt familiar to him.
“I’ve been here so much – I’ve been here many times. … Maybe 10 times, to give or to take, ”he laughs.
“I was going to wait, I’m telling you,” said Las Vegas resident Michael Myers as he stood between a full-length photo of a naked woman and a sign encouraging social distancing and others. behaviors to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Myers’ wife Lisa Harper said he changed his mind when she told him they could both get him at the Hustler Club.
“I said, ‘Flynt’s Hustler?’ She said “Yeah”. I said, ‘Oh! Let me think, ”Myers said with a laugh.
“A lot of people who wouldn’t normally, a lot of guys, they said, they came here because it’s Hustler,” his wife Harper said. “To take the heaviness out of it, to make it a Hustler, that’s very smart.”
“Nothing says vaccinations like a striptease stick,” said couple’s friend George Stoecklin, who joined them in getting the shot.
Myers, 70, said he was reluctant to get the shot and worried about how quickly he had been available. But he noted his age and expressed concern about his ability to spread the virus and infect others, including his wife.
Myers said he was disappointed that there weren’t any dancers on the stage while he got his shot, but said, “at least I got the reach of this one.”
More than 46% of the state’s population aged 12 and older have received at least one vaccine, but Nevada health officials said this week that a sharp drop in demand for vaccines could prevent the State to achieve a goal. to vaccinate 75% of the eligible population.
Nevada officials are increasingly turning to pop-up clinics in places like churches, schools, and senior citizens’ centers – and now strip clubs – to try and get more shots in. arms.
As demand slows across the country, governments and businesses are looking to other creative ways to get the shots fired. Marijuana dispensaries have offered “joints for jabs,” breweries have offered “shots and a hunter,” and Ohio plans to launch a lottery scheme next week for residents who get vaccinated with a. million dollar prize and five full college scholarships.
Officials in Las Vegas said the Hustler Club approached them to set up the clinic after being housed at a similar vaccination site at the company’s New Orleans site. The club offered its own incentives to those who show proof of vaccination: a membership card giving them and five friends free entry, a free bottle of alcohol, dances from a “vaccinated leader” and dances. ‘other advantages.
Ralph James, managing director, said the company thought it would be a good chance to help the community and get back to normal more quickly. He acknowledged that people generally don’t think of the strip club as a partner in public health, but said: “It gives everyone a chance to see how clean it is and how it is. normal business, like any other business. “