Israeli city offers free drinks to encourage COVID-19 vaccination among young people

At the Jenia bar at Dizengoff Square in Israel’s Tel Aviv, curious passersby were lured with free beer and coffee in exchange for receiving a COVID-19 vaccine jab.

The latest bid, initiated by the city’s government starting last weekend, aims to encourage its young people to take the vaccine shots as Israel’s vaccination drive, which has inoculated since last December about half of its population, started to slow down.

An Israeli gets a free drink and COVID-19 shot at Tel Aviv’s bar Jenia on Feb. 18, 2021. (Xinhua/Nick Kolyohin)

Maii Perez, 29 years old, was one of the first young people to get a free beer alongside a COVID-19 vaccine shot at Jenia bar.

“It is a great idea to appeal to the young people here and an easy way to make them receive the vaccine,” she said.

The vaccination drive is operated by Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel’s national emergency service in conjunction with Tel Aviv municipality and Ministry of Health, which has set up mobile vaccination sites at various public locations.

MDA now is dispatching across the city its special mobile caravans, which are equipped with refrigerators capable of storing the vaccines at their designated temperature.

Ilee Levanon, an MDA paramedic, said that they are going to the popular places to make it easier for people to get the vaccination, adding that some young people have not received vaccines because they prefer to avoid standing in long queues in vaccination centers or because the applications for vaccines are too complicated.

“So we give people a chance to receive vaccines easily without all the red-tape,” he said.

While the elderly rushed to vaccination centers, younger populations were much more hesitant about getting jabs. Around 90 percent of Israelis above the age of 60 received the COVID-19 vaccine, while only half of the people aged 16-39 have been inoculated, said the Israeli Health Ministry.

Younger generations feel less pressure and urgency to take the vaccine, mostly because the virus seems to be less deadly and dangerous for them.

Eytan Schwartz, Tel Aviv municipality spokesperson, told Xinhua that “right now, Israel has enough vaccines to inoculate the entire population within a month. There is no shortage of vaccines, but there is a shortage of willingness. And that is what we are trying to tackle,” said Schwartz.

Schwartz reminded the young people that if they miss bars, nightclubs, and parties, then they should take the responsibility to get vaccine shots so the dynamic nightlife of Tel Aviv can finally return.

With inputs from XINHUA News Agency