Long Beach will now give anyone receiving their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine two free tickets to the Aquarium of the Pacific as city officials look for ways to boost vaccination rates in the city after weeks of declining numbers.

The tickets will be available to anyone getting vaccinated at city-run sites between May 11 and May 15 and will be given to anyone receiving a dose regardless if it’s the two-shot Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, or the Johnson & Johnson variety, the city said.

Vaccination rates in the city began to decline in the middle of April when daily vaccination rates, which were in the thousands during the height of the city’s rollout, declined to a few hundred per day.

The majority of shots administered this week have been second doses. On Thursday the city administered over 4,900 second doses but just 490 first doses. City officials have attributed this in part to the large number of residents who have already received one dose, but also to vaccine holdouts.

“While we have made tremendous strides in vaccinating 60% of eligible Long Beach residents and 96% of our seniors, we know that vaccine hesitancy for some is real,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement. “We are going to do everything we can to encourage folks to get vaccinated, and that includes incentives.”

Garcia first discussed incentives to combat vaccine hesitancy during a press conference last week when  he said that a large portion of the city not being vaccinated could “keep us in a loop of not beating this thing” adding that the city should “be thinking about everything” to get more people vaccinated.

Over 223,000 residents in the city have been vaccinated but health experts have continued to increase the percentage of a population they think will be required to achieve herd immunity to between 80% and 90% in recent weeks.

The announcement this week by the Food and Drug Administration that children between the ages of 12 and 15 are now eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine will give the city more opportunities to increase the number of people in Long Beach who are vaccinated.

Garcia announced in late April that the city was starting to partner with LBUSD campuses to create vaccine sites at select schools in anticipation of the FDA’s ruling on younger children being eligible, but also to allow for parents to be vaccinated as they drop off or pick up their kids from school.

The city has not indicated when it will begin administering shots to children aged 12 to 15.

Vaccines are still available to all eligible residents without an appointment at the Long Beach Convention Center Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. People can still make an appointment for a vaccine using the state’s vaccination portal.

Here are the locations other than the Convention Center where you can get free aquarium tickets with your vaccination:

  • Admiral Kidd Park 2125 Santa Fe Ave. Monday 1 to 5 p.m., Thursday 9 to 11 a.m.
  • McArthur Park 1321 E. Anaheim St. Tuesday 1 to 5 p.m., Friday 9 to 11 a.m.
  • Houghton Park 6301 Myrtle Ave. Wednesday 1 to 5 p.m., Saturday 9 to 11 a.m.
  • Cabrillo High School 2001 Santa Fe Ave. Saturday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Homebound residents can also make an appointment for a mobile clinic by filling out this form.

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.