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“Shot and a Chaser” Program Brews Vaccinations in Erie County

Published on May 25, 2021

exterior of big ditch brewing company providing shot and a chaser
Big Ditch Brewing Company is participating in the Shot and a Chaser program. Photo courtesy Matt Kahn.

Like many other places across the United States, Erie County found vaccine appointments were dwindling. Less people were showing up to get their shot, especially younger people. Their vaccine distribution task force faced a challenge: how could they get shots in as many arms as possible? And reach this younger demographic? The answer was simple, but brilliant: with free beer. Erie County officially launched the “Shot and a Chaser” program in May. 

The “Shot and a Chaser” program is exactly what it sounds like: you show up, get your shot and get a free beer. Participating breweries host pop-up vaccination clinics, and adults can stop by to get vaccinated and wet their whistle afterwards.

Shot and a Chaser Program Reaches Groups With Low Vaccination Rates

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says the idea was a hit — these clinics reach the existing customer base of the breweries, while also providing a boost to local businesses.  

“The days where hundreds of people would sign up for a single Erie County health department vaccine clinic are far behind us,” Poloncarz says. “These Shot and a Chaser events are more targeted, reaching a few dozen to over one hundred individuals at a time. The difference now is that these specific clinics are reaching the age groups with the lowest vaccination rates – those between the ages of 20 and 40.”

Big Ditch Brewing Company Hosting a Pop-up Clinic

Big Ditch Brewing Company is one of the participating breweries. They’re hosting a Shot and a Chaser event on May 25th.  

For Matt Kahn, president and co-founder of Big Ditch, it was a no-brainer to participate.

“As demand for vaccines began to dwindle, we were a bit troubled, as in our general opinion vaccination is the best way to put an end to the pandemic so we can begin to get our lives and our business back to normal,” Kahn says. “We had inquired with a few groups about scheduling a clinic and education session at our site so that we might encourage others to get vaccinated when we heard about the Erie County Department of Health [ECDOH] program, which kicked off at Resurgence Brewing. We are excited to participate in this program.” 

He hopes to see a big crowd line up to get their shots, along with any of his staff who haven’t been vaccinated yet.

Register Online to Participate in Shot and a Chaser

You can register for the Shot and a Chaser events online, or walk-in. Flying Bison Brewing Company and Steelbound Brewery are hosting events in June.  

Erie County has several more events planned, and not just at breweries. Poloncarz says restaurants and other local businesses have reached out to host clinics including Soho burger bar, Savoy whisky bar and Lakeward Spirits distillery.

“Bottom line: as our economy and our public’s health recover, we are also giving Erie County residents something to toast to and celebrate,” he says.   

Stay tuned to toast for updates, including more fun things to do in Buffalo.  

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The Author
Silvia Pikal is a writer and editor based in Calgary. She loves following her curiosity wherever it takes her, telling stories about the making of a ghost opera or the latest developments in health care. Her fiction and non-fiction have been published in dozens of magazines, a short story anthology and most notably, on Blindman Brewing beer cans. When she’s not writing or editing, she’s going on adventures with her husband, Derek, and their spunky rescue dog, Mala. Silvia is fuelled by the 3 C’s – coffee, cheese and chocolate.


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