Cleveland Barbershop Offering COVID-19 Vaccine

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Barbershops are often seen as places for haircuts, beard trims and exchanges of verbal jabs, but Urban Kutz Barbershop on Detroit Ave. in Cleveland became a place to get a COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday.

To make COVID-19 vaccines more accessible, the Cleveland Department of Public Health is piloting a project to offer vaccinations in businesses.  The department's first partner in the project is Urban Kutz.

Waverly Willis owns two Urban Kutz locations on Cleveland's West Side. [Gabriel Kramer / ideastream]

“I thought about not getting the shot at all honestly,” said Shan Smith, who received his first COVID-19 vaccine at Urban Kutz. “But then, when I saw that this gentleman here was willing to make this available in his facility to the public, I thought to myself, at the very least, I could support him, while helping others at the same time. It’s all about community anyways.”

The gentleman Smith spoke about is Waverly Willis, the owner of Urban Kutz.

“Two or three of the gentleman who left here earlier told me that I was the reason that they got the vaccine and that makes me feel good to know that, essentially, it feels like they’re trusting me with their lives,” Willis said.

Willis said he expected about 100 people to get a vaccine in his shop on Saturday. [Gabriel Kramer / ideastream]

Willis said that the factor of trust is something that barbershops can provide that sometimes hospitals and doctor’s offices cannot. He added that he hoped by turning his shop into a vaccination clinic, he could eliminate some of the challenges that kept some people from getting a vaccine, like technology, location and language barriers.

“I decided to come close to my place,” said Sandy Sharifi, who got her vaccine at Urban Kutz, because she lives nearby. “I wanted to go on a Saturday. The offices are closed, so there’s nobody working. So this is really convenient to come here.”

Shan Smith and Sandra Sharifi didn't get haircuts at Urban Kutz, but did get their COVID-19 vaccines. [Gabriel Kramer / ideastream]

Barbershops aren’t the only out of the ordinary locations offering COVID-19 vaccines. Third Federal Savings and Loan turned its Slavic Village parking lot into a drive-through and walk-up location for people to get shots last week. Third Federal partnered with MetroHealth Hospital to distribute the shots.

Third Federal will make its campus parking lot a vaccination site two more times this month – May 13 and May 20. Appointments are available, but not required.

The Third Federal parking lot in Slavic Village will be a vaccination clinic two more times this month. [Gabriel Kramer / ideastream]

Convenience is one of the strategies to these alternative vaccination sites – bringing the shot to places people are already going to be.

"That's why I came, because I didn't want to have to figure out when am I going downtown, how I have to park or where am I going, how do I call to get it,” said Tiffany Watson, a Third Federal employee. “I figured, while I’m working, I can just go.”

Urban Kutz will offer vaccines next Saturday at its Pearl Road location from noon to 4:30.

Willis says his shop can provide a sense of trust and comfort that doctor's offices sometimes cannot. [Gabriel Kramer / ideastream]

Appointments are not required and anyone 18 and older, or 16 and 17 with an adult, can get vaccinated at the shop. A haircut is not required.

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