‘Like getting a shot in your living room’: Cleveland barbershop hosting walk-in vaccine clinics

Coronavirus

CLEVELAND (WJW) — Comfort, familiarity and honesty.

“I decided if we are to get back to normal, that I need to do my part,” said Waverly Willis, owner of Urban Kutz Barbershop for more than a decade.

He hopes those values can ease the hesitation and improve access around getting a COVID-19 shot. “I became part of the fabric of the neighborhood and so I know people trust me,” he said.

Customer Jumal Trice has been with Willis as long as he’s had the business. “Your barber’s like, I don’t know, your barber’s next to God. So wherever he goes, you go,” Trice said.

On Saturday, May 8, Willis is opening the doors of his Detroit Avenue location (11106 Detroit Avenue) to host a vaccine clinic to reach what he calls a forgotten population.

“It’s people out here, that physically don’t know how to book, they have a flip phone or they don’t have a phone at all, they don’t speak English,” Willis said.

WJW photo

He will have another clinic on Saturday, May 15 at his Pearl Road location (4491 Pearl Road), too. The walk-in-only events are in partnership with the Cleveland Department of Public Health. 

“There’s been a slow uptake in the vaccine. We’re looking at any way we can to really penetrate the neighbors. So we were looking and trying to think outside the box,” said Interim Director Brian Kimball.

The clinic will be prepared to administer 100 shots of the Pfizer vaccine from noon. to 4:30 p.m. on both days.

After you get your shot, you can come right next door to Eagle Coffee during the 15-minute waiting period and Willis will be providing free refreshments.

“I give him credit for being involved in the community and not just being a storefront and a business front that’s not involved,” said Trice.

Kimball says they are looking to meet people where they’re at. “We know that barbershops and beauty salons are places where we go and have those conversations about the topic of the day,” he said

Those conversations, Willis says, can sometimes be misleading: “This is an area where falsities can get spread, I call them Facebook Facts.”

And he wants to combat that. “Come talk to a professional, get armed with real facts and then if you choose to get the vaccine, it will be here for you,” Willis said.

With help from the city, and a familiar chair to sit in. “Coming to the barbershop to get a shot is more like getting a shot in your living room, it’s just comfortable,” said Trice.

The city is also hosting vaccination clinics at local churches and schools. You can find more information here.

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