Garth Brooks Tickets Entice Some Fans To Get COVID-19 Vaccines At Arrowhead Stadium
Some Garth Brooks fans took advantage of the pop-up vaccine clinic at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, saying it was convenient and “the right thing to do."
Garth Brooks fans lined up to get COVID-19 shots in exchange for a chance to snag front-row seats Saturday at his sold-out Arrowhead Stadium concert, which drew more than 70,000 fans.
Mayor Quinton Lucas announced Wednesday that the Kansas City Health Department would hold a vaccination clinic ahead of the concert. And while official numbers won't be available until Monday, at least some fans, encouraged by their idol to get vaccinated, took advantage of the opportunity.
As of Friday, only 39.8% of Kansas City residents were fully vaccinated, and the surge of COVID-19 cases resulting from the delta variant has overwhelmed local hospitals.
The chance to get vaccinated came at a perfect time for self-described “diehard" Garth Brooks fan Laura Campbell.
“I've been trying to get scheduled for the vaccination, so the fact that they're doing it at the concert, it's great,” Campbell said. “With the whole COVID rampant, and the Delta variant going on, it was just kind of time to do it.”
Campbell, a resident of Blue Springs, Missouri, said she had wanted to wait to get the vaccine to “make sure all the kinks are worked out,” but then got busy with life and work. She said the pop-up clinic was helpful for parents like her who were pressed for time to schedule their shots.
Other ticket holders likewise said the clinic at Arrowhead provided a more convenient way for them to get their shots.
Adam Johnson said there's no clinic near his home in Osage City, Kansas, and that getting the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine at Arrowhead meant he wouldn’t have to worry about looking for it elsewhere.
He said the convenience of the pop-up clinic, not necessarily the prospect of upgraded seats, is what convinced him to roll up his sleeve.
“I think it's a brilliant idea. The health department was smart because people will get it if you put it in their face,” Johnson said.
Kansas City’s most recent vaccination effort got off to a slow start, with only a few handfuls of people getting vaccinated at the health department’s earlier effort at the Gucci Mane concert in Kansas City last Sunday.
Official numbers for how many people got vaccinated on Saturday won't be available until Monday, but health department workers said they were impressed with the turnout.
“It feels like a lot more people are coming in to get vaccinated, and people are even walking all the way around Arrowhead Stadium just to come in here. I’m shocked,” health care worker Colleen Long said.
Long said she thought Brooks' encouragement of people to get vaccinated was a factor. Health department volunteer Cesar Velez added that the crowd's size — more than 70,000 fans turned out — may also have been a factor.
Nick Helm said he got the vaccine because it was “the right thing to do for the community.” He said he wanted to reassure his coworkers and others who were scared to get their shot.
“I think maybe I just did it to show them that it's not a bad thing. It's going to help everybody out. You know, I do my part, you do your part and eventually, hopefully, we can get rid of this whole thing,” Helm, a resident of St. Joseph, Missouri, said.
Arrowhead officials announced before the concert that all guests would be required to wear masks in enclosed areas of the stadium.
Helm said he expected more people to get vaccinated as they weary of mask mandates. He ended up giving up his raffle ticket to give others a shot at the premium seats.
A chance at some concert perks was one of the reasons Mike Jenkins said he decided to get vaccinated on Saturday. The St. Joseph, Missouri, resident said he also wanted to get vaccinated ahead of his sister’s wedding next month. The out-of-state flight would require him to quarantine for 10 days if he doesn't get the vaccine.
“At first, I was like, I'm not gonna get that vaccine, I'm not gonna do it. But down the road, it's like, okay, it makes life easier,” Jenkins said.
While the vaccination lines were never long on Saturday, Long said the city is continuing to advertise opportunities to get more shots in people’s arms.
“I think that even if you get a low count of people coming in, you have enough people seeing that we're out there and I think that's awesome,” she said.