Side of sprinkles with your vaccination? One California ice cream shop is offering just that
HEALDSBURG, Calif. - As vaccination sites in Sonoma County taper off, the local medical association is becoming creative to get shots into arms.
On Wednesday evening, vaccinations were offered with a side of sprinkles at Wicked Slush in Healdsburg.
"We're just going to where the people are and make it as convenient as possible," said Wendy Young, Executive Director of the Sonoma County Medical Association. "Not everyone wants to go to a gymnasium or a pharmacy."
Wicked Slush, on Healdsburg Avenue, offers Boston-style Italian ice layered with soft-serve ice cream, a combination that brings customers back again and again.
"It's fun to come here, a great spot right next to the Russian River," said Lucas Rumpler, 20, back in Healdsburg from college in Arizona.
Rumpler contracted COVID-19 while away at school, quarantined, and recovered after about two weeks.
"I don't want to get it again," he said, "and this is an awesome location in Healdsburg to use as a hub for vaccinations."
Sweet treats are just the latest lure from the medical association.
After running a months-long clinic at the county fairgrounds, the volunteer doctors and nurses hit the road.
They have already set up in brewpubs, angling for beer-drinking young adults.
Staging at Wicked Slush was aimed at an even younger crowd.
"I wanted to get the 12- to 15-year-olds," said Young. "Where are they going, where are they hanging out, where would it be cool for us to be?"
Twins Sam and Claire Chuidian of Windsor came on their 12th birthday.
After their vaccinations, their sundaes were presented and everyone serenaded them with "Happy Birthday."
"The shot kind of seems like a birthday gift, like a present," said Claire.
"Now we can have sleepovers and hang out with friends," agreed Sam.
Over a few hours, about 50 people received either the Pfizer or Johnson vaccine.
"That's still 50 who wouldn't have gotten vaccinated," said Young, "and we're just going where they would be anyway."
A couple from Rio Nido, driving home from work, spotted a roadway sign and made a beeline.
"You know it's fantastic, it's in a very high traffic area," said Shannon Jones, who said she has been too busy to arrange her inoculation previously.
"This is welcoming and open, and doesn't feel as forced because you don't have to make an appointment, and it's one and done for me," Jones said.
On Thursday, the Sonoma County Medical Association will host another walk-up clinic in Santa Rosa's Old Courthouse Square.
It will run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and many downtown businesses will offer discounts and specials to people who are vaccinated.
"I think it's a combination of making it easy and seeing how many other people are doing it," said Wicked Slush owner Amy Covin.
Covin hopes convenience and familiarity will help overcome vaccine hesitancy.
"People tend to say, 'Well, I'll see if it kills you first,' and then when no one drops dead, they say 'okay I'll get it!'"
Overall in Sonoma County, about 60 percent of eligible residents are fully vaccinated with more than 500,000 doses distributed.