McDonald’s in Coachella holds vaccine clinic, offers free menu item as incentive

Olivia Sandusky

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One McDonald’s in Coachella is serving up cheeseburgers, French fries and coronavirus vaccines at a recent pop-up clinic.

It’s part of a California Department of Public Health program that aims to improve access, and was open to McDonald’s staff and the general public.

“I just sat down and they asked me questions like a pop-quiz, and I got the shot,” said Max Vasuelas of Coachella.

Across the valley, cities like Coachella, Indio and Desert Hot Springs have the lowest vaccination rates, at around 50 percent of the population.

Meanwhile, Palm Springs and Palm Desert are at about 75 percent.

County officials point to vaccine hesitancy, work schedules and access to health care as the main reasons behind differing vaccination levels.

In order to reach areas with lower rates, they county and state have turned to more convenient approaches..

“The hope is that we get people when they have a few minutes, they grab something to eat, they get their shot, they sit down for a few minutes and eat their food while they’re in their recovery and then move in. We’re trying to make it as easy for people as possible,” said Jose Arballo Jr. with Riverside University Health System.

For those who are willing to get the shot in front of the golden arches, they receive a coupon for a free menu item, as part of the latest rounds of state incentives.

While many found the free item enticing, for some it came as a welcome surprise.

“I didn’t know there was a coupon until I passed by and she gave it to me!” said Yaresli Gonzalez of Coachella.

Recently, the state has offered everything from cash prizes to sports tickets to encourage the unvaccinated population to get their shot, but county officials say the approach isn’t foolproof.

“Little by little you hope that those incentives are the tipping point and the reason why some people get vaccinated. And in some cases it’s working, in other’s it isn’t,” said Arballo Jr.

Still dozens showed up to the Coachella Clinic throughout the day, and the county says they plan to do several more pop-up events in the future.

“We’re hoping that we’ll be at churches, community events, community centers, where we’ve been already, but we’ll be there more,” said Arballo Jr.

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