A pop-up vaccination pod at... a strip club?

(AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)

When vaccination rates began to stall this month, governors and mayors around the country vowed to “get creative” and find ways to inspire the hesitant to sign up for a jab. Ohio set up a lottery game to tempt people into getting the vaccine and New York and Maryland soon copied them. Some of the largest employers in the country including Walmart teamed up with state governments to offer cash bonuses to employees who proved that they’ve taken the dose. But in its own unique fashion, Las Vegas has taken its game to a new level. They’ve set up a vaccination pod in a strip club. How this incentivizes the customers to agree to take a needle in the arm isn’t really clear, but they’re definitely generating some headlines. (Associated Press)

Wearing a French maid-inspired lingerie costume and high heels, dancer JoJo Hamner waited patiently to get her COVID-19 vaccine in a line that snaked past a glittery hostess stand under a red-light chandelier.

When it was her turn, Hamner sat in a chair and held onto a small feather duster that completed her costume while a nurse administered the shot into her already-exposed arm.

Hamner then waited nearby for the required 15 minutes of observation, sitting with other vaccine recipients in leather chairs between plush purple booths, vacant stages and empty poles at this strip club in Las Vegas.

“This is just the most Vegas thing I’ve ever seen,” she said of the experience.

This was all taking place at Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club. The club wasn’t actually open while the clinic was taking place, but the dancers who agreed to participate were all wearing their stage costumes.

What was the appeal of trying something like this? According to the chief nurse of the Southern Nevada Health District (who supervised the event), some people “might be attracted to the novelty of it.” I suppose that’s possible, but most of the pods I’m aware of focus on sanitizing everything in the working space. I’m not trying to knock the exotic dancing industry here, but “cleanliness” isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about strip clubs.

Other areas have been getting equally creative. Back on April 20th (which is national marijuana day or something) legal pot dispensaries in several states were offering “joints for jabs.”

In honor of April 20—a sort of cannabis Christmastime—and continued efforts to get more New Yorkers vaccinated, they’re handing out free marijuana cigarettes in Union Square to adults who prove they’re fully vaccinated.

From 11 a.m. until 4:20 p.m., each person 21 and older who shows proof of their COVID-19 vaccination can pick up a free joint on the south side of the Manhattan park, near the George Washington statue.

The Kroger grocery chain offered $200 worth of store credit and cash payments to people showing up with proof of vaccination. Amtrak did something similar. But at least one doctor who studies human behavior has expressed skepticism. Dr. David Asch of the Penn Medical Center said that cash incentives really only work on people who were already motivated to get vaccinated. For anyone who is skeptical, however, handing out money or freebies could have the opposite effect. He said that people who were distrustful are probably thinking, “They’d never offer money if this was a good thing.”

He makes a fair point. Nobody offers bonuses to get a flu shot. In fact, most people are lucky if they can even get time off from work to do it.