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Urban Kutz barbershops opening as vaccination clinics on Cleveland's west side

The owner says after his difficult experience trying to get a vaccine, he approached the city to ask if his locations could distribute COVID-19 shots.

CLEVELAND — President Joe Biden is setting a new vaccination goal for adult Americans by mid-summer, wanting at least 70% to get their COVID-19 vaccines before July 4.

Vaccination demand has dropped off nationwide, and the administration is pushing to make getting the shots easier. Businesses in Northeast Ohio are pushing to do just that.

Getting a vaccine, as we know, starts with booking an appointment online or going to a pharmacy, but not everyone has access to technology or is even comfortable with that. But imagine having the option of being able to get a vaccine or getting educated in the places you go to often, such as work or the barbershop.

"I just wanted to remove barriers, that's all," Waverly Willis, owner of Urban Kutz, said.

Willis spends his days making people look good, but on Saturday, people will walk out of his barbershop--a place they know and feel comfortable--vaccinated

"I knew more people that died from the virus than did from the vaccine," Willis said. "That's why I approached the city of Cleveland and ask them if I could start distributing at both of my locations."

Willis says it started with his own difficult experience trying to learn about getting vaccinated, and he then learned people in his neighborhood didn't have the resources to be in the know with facts about COVID-19.

"I'm decent with technology and I got kicked off the booking website probably a minimum of 10 times," he said. "Some people are new here, not just to Cleveland, but to the United States, so they're terrified to jump on the bus."

"Coming to a vital place in the community like this to get the vaccine will be more comforting for a lot of people in the community," Urban Kutz client Lance Gulley added.

Willis is one example that's making it easier and incentivizing getting the vaccine: Walmart and Sam's Club announced walk-up COVID-19 vaccines at 171 pharmacies across Ohio, baseball fans in Cleveland were offered discounts to Indians games if they're vaccinated, and Target announced discounts to guests who get their shot at the store.

"I'm not trying to convince you to take it or not," Willis said. "All I’m saying is come, get educated the way I did."

Urban Kutz has two locations: The first clinic will be this May 8 at the 11106 Detroit Ave. location. On May 15, another clinic will be held at the 4419 Pearl Road spot. Each will be from noon-4 p.m., and Willis says they hope to administer at least 100 shots.