Anchorage shop gave out free tattoos for COVID-19 vaccinations

Channel 2 Morning Edition (6 a.m.)
Updated: Jul. 14, 2021 at 7:00 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - There’s been a lot of incentives going on for people to get a COVID-19 vaccination. On Tuesday in Anchorage, Unique Ink was giving out something a little more permanent than free food or gift cards.

For that day only, the shop gave a free tattoo from a selection of small pieces to those who got a COVID-19 vaccination a mobile vaccine clinic set up by the Anchorage Health Department.

Owner Manuel Cuautle said he’s been living in Anchorage since he moved here with his family when he was 5 years old. When the vaccines became available, he said he signed up to get one right away. During the vaccine roll out, Cuautle said he saw several other businesses offering up incentives, and was inspired.

“You know I see people giving out hot dogs or all kinds of stuff, so that’s where I got the idea,” Cuautle said. “You know, I’m thinking, why not a free tattoo? You know, the cost and all that, that’s not nothing compared to ... the benefits that I think. That I believe in.”

People like Destiny Steward got to choose from a pre-selected list of smaller tattoos when they got their free piece. She said she saw Unique Ink post on social media and booked an appointment.

She explained why it took so long for her to get vaccinated.

“Just nervous. I don’t like shots,” Steward said. “I don’t want to get poked by a needle for a shot.”

The irony that she was getting stuck by a vaccination needle so she could get a tattoo was not lost on her.

“I can sit through a tattoo easily, but I can’t get a shot. I know,” she joked.

Cuautle said his businesses were like so many others and were financially hurt by the pandemic. He said he’s got several family members who work at the tattoo shop with him, and more family that own businesses in town that also took a blow over the last year.

“The more people we get vaccinated, you know, the higher chance we have of keeping the community open,” he said.

The free tattoos were only offered for one day. However, there’s still a lot of places to get vaccinated in Anchorage.

As of Tuesday, 53% of Anchorage residents age 12 and older are fully vaccinated, according to the state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard.

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