As state pushes for more vaccinations, Tigerland bars host 'shots for shots' clinic
BATON ROUGE - Hours before students descended upon Tigerland for the popular Thursday night out, a handful of students drifted into Fred's, but not for happy hour.
"When I told my mom in Texas, 'I'm going to get vaccinated at Fred's,' she was like 'no you're not,'" Meredith Clark, an LSU student, said. "I was like, 'no like it's legit, they're getting people to come here,' and the finally convinced our parents."
Louisiana opened up vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 and up March 29, but Clark and her friend and classmate, Caroline Lavern waited until Thursday to get their first dose.
"Well, for me personally, all the other locations were kind of inconvenient," Clark said. "I feel like this was easier to come to."
Along with vaccines, Fred's and other Tigerland bars, handed out free food and merchandise. For students 21 and older, getting a shot came with a free drink.
Thursday's event was not the first time the bar adapted into a COVID-19 mitigation site. Last year, the parking lot served as a drive-thru coronavirus site.
Fred's co-owner Jason Nay says he doesn't want to persuade anyone one way or another about the vaccine but hopes to serve as a familiar place to those interested in getting the shots.
"Maybe you're not familiar with a clinic in the area," Nay said. "Maybe you feel at home or maybe you got the testing through us last year, and you know how easy and smooth that went."
With his industry smothered in restrictions over the last year, Nay is willing to do whatever he can to return to normal.
"Our goal is to get Louisiana back open 100 percent and get the economy back going," Nay said. "So if this can help the governor, then we're in."
A traveling crew with Relief Telemed planned to administer nearly 50 Moderna doses at Fred's Thursday.
"We want to make sure [college students are] as safe as possible," said Ashleigh Variest, a nurse with Relief. "They're in closer proximity with each other, especially those that stay in dorms together, they room together."
The "shots for shots" initiative is one of many creative ways organizations are attempting to get more people vaccinated, as interest begins to decline.
According to the Louisiana Department of Health, 130,039 people ages 18-29 have received at least one dose. That's 8.9% of the 1,455,372 people who have initiated the process statewide.
For students like Clark and Lavern, getting their first shots at Fred's gave them one more reason to celebrate during a night out in Tigerland.
"I definitely think having it here pulls in the younger crowd, especially, we get free 'no cover' cards," Clark said." I feel like you're definitely getting a two for one coming here."
Another "shots for shots" event will be held Friday (April 23) at MidTap BR from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.