One shot, one beer: A Juneau brewery’s bargain to get people vaccinated

Sara Stekoll works behind the counter at Forbidden Peak Brewery. She is a co-owner of the brewery and asked the City and Borough of Juneau to host a vaccine clinic there.
Sara Stekoll works behind the counter on Friday at Forbidden Peak Brewery in Juneau. She is a co-owner of the brewery and asked the City and Borough of Juneau to host a vaccine clinic there. (Photo by Lyndsey Brollini/KTOO)

About 62% of Juneau’s total population has been vaccinated against COVID-19, and after the initial rush of people, demand has slowed down.

The city has tried a lot of things to entice residents into getting them, including offering pop-up clinics all over town. The Chamber of Commerce is offering gift cards.  On Friday afternoon, a local brewery tried a new tactic — beer.  

Carolina Sekona got her first dose and headed to the beer line.

Carolina Sekona just after receiving her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Forbidden Peak Brewery.
Carolina Sekona just after receiving her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo by Lyndsey Brollini/KTOO)

She said was hesitant at first to get one — the shot, not the beer — because she didn’t know what was in it. But after her mother and brother had a good experience with the Pfizer vaccine, and after she did her own research, she decided to get one for herself.

She went to Forbidden Peak Brewery for her vaccine because the clinic there was on her day off. 

Sign outside of Forbidden Peak Brewery directing people to where they can get a COVID-19 vaccine
Sign outside of Forbidden Peak Brewery directing people to where they can get a COVID-19 vaccine

“And they say they have some great prizes and I thought it was cool. And I also have a friend here that is on vacation for four days to Alaska and I thought it was a great place to bring him,” Sekona said.

She is also a child care provider in Juneau, so she wanted to reassure parents that she is safe and vaccinated around children who can’t get one.

The beer that Sekona picked up was Sara Stekoll’s idea. Stekoll is a co-owner of the brewery. She wanted to offer an incentive for people to get vaccinated. So, she asked the City and Borough of Juneau to host a clinic at her brewery and she offered to buy a beer for the first 50 people to get a first or single dose vaccine during the clinic. 

“As a business that’s trying very hard to keep our community safe as we open up to a broader range of patrons, I thought it was important to try to encourage as many people to get vaccinated as possible so that we can open our doors fully and without restrictions,” she said.

And before it even started, there were at least 26 people pre-registered to get a vaccine. About half an hour after the event started, Stekoll said she was seeing a lot of regulars. 

“They brought family members in already,” she said. “And other people are just — I think people who enjoy being in the space and thought it might be a good place to hang out for 15 minutes afterwards.”

Tracy Balovich helps with the administration side of the COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Forbidden Peak Brewery
Tracy Balovich helps with the administration side of the COVID-19 vaccine clinic. (Photo by Lyndsey Brollini/KTOO)

Tracy Balovich sat at a table at the brewery helping people with paperwork. She’s an emergency worker for the city, helping with the administrative side of vaccine clinics. She’s been at this job since January, and she says she’s lost count of the number of clinics she’s been to. 

“When we first started it was exciting. It was very exciting. It still is, but I think that the excitement has worn off a little bit, being that so many people have got it. I’m hoping that more people come and get it,” Balovich said.

For now, Forbidden Peak Brewery has been the only vaccine clinic offering beer as a bonus. But there are other incentives the Chamber of Commerce is offering, including $40 for the first dose and a chance to win $1,000. 

These incentives come as demand for vaccines declines

Correction: Forbidden Peak Brewery did not provide free beer for people who showed up to a vaccine clinic there, rather co-owner Sara Stekoll offered to personally buy beer for the first 50 people who got vaccinated during the clinic. 

Lyndsey Brollini

Local News Reporter, KTOO

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