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Milwaukee Barbershop Offers Vaccinations Against COVID-19

NOEL KING, HOST:

You can go to the barbershop for a lot of things besides a haircut. You can gossip about the neighborhood, talk politics or sports. And at Gee's Clippers in Milwaukee, you can also get your COVID vaccine.

GAULIEN SMITH: I always say this - two businesses in an urban community that can truly change the trajectory of that community are one being the Black church and one being the Black barbershop.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Gaulien "Gee" Smith owns a barbershop and partnered this month with Hayat Pharmacy and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield to provide a vaccination service on Saturdays. You can sign up online, although the shop also takes walk-ins.

KING: Smith says he wants to help his community, which has been hit very hard by the pandemic. He also sees it as a way to build more trust in the vaccine.

SMITH: Guys today have a better relationship with their barber than they do their own doctor. So we just decided to bring the doctors to the guys.

INSKEEP: Gee Smith has already gotten vaccinated himself, and he says the response from customers to his initiative is positive. The clinic at his barbershop has also been providing other health care services.

SMITH: Individuals can come to Gee's Clippers and get their blood pressure checked, you know, get checked for diabetes, their glucose levels, HIV test.

KING: Rita Saavedra, who works for Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, worked with Gee on the clinic, and she calls it invaluable.

RITA SAAVEDRA: Men who would go there repeatedly had not seen their doctor for years.

INSKEEP: Wow. And now the goal is to keep offering COVID shots for the rest of the month.

SMITH: I just thank God that I was able to be a part of the healing of our community.

KING: Gaulien "Gee" Smith, the owner of Gee's Clippers in Milwaukee, who's providing his customers with not just a haircut but also a vaccine.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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