Heinz Field hosts COVID-19 vaccination tent during Rolling Stones concert

The handling of the vaccine test drew some criticism

Written By Amara Phillips, For The Globe

The Rolling Stones returned to Pittsburgh at Heinz Field during their “No Filter” tour on Oct. 4. The infamous British rock band was not only accompanied by screaming fans, but also a vaccination clinic. Heinz Field did not require attendees to be vaccinated, but they did offer the option during the show.

The vaccination clinic during the concert was viewed as controversial as some fans said they did not believe that a concert was the appropriate setting, while others said it was a great chance to spread awareness.

“Pop-up vaccination tents seem like a great idea in theory,” said Meghan Fitzsimmons, a sports, arts and entertainment management (SAEM) major. “A lot of people may not have the time to schedule an appointment, so if they see the pop-up tent, they may be more inclined to get it. But I don’t know if a concert is the best place for one. A lot of people come early to tailgate, drink, and play games, so I’m not sure how many people will go out of their way to get a shot at a concert if there was no promotion for it beforehand.”

Stories on the planned vaccine were covered in local print and broadcast media outlets on Oct. 1, a few days before the concert at Heinz Field.

Although some have said that concerts may not be the best venue or atmosphere to receive vaccinations against COVID-19, Dacia Villafane, a 24-year-old pharmacy associate, supported the idea, comparing it to other clinic appearances during mass events, such as voter registration tents.

“I think having a pop-up vaccination stand at a concert is a great idea,” Villafane said. “We have voter registration tents at concerts, and I think they go hand-in-hand. I think people would be more inclined to get vaccinated. Going back to my voter registration example, I would have never signed up to vote if it weren’t for the sign-up tent at a concert I went to.”

The vaccination clinic offered both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines along with booster shots, but a few people said they were not aware of the opportunity.

“I had no idea that the pop-up vaccination tent was set up at The Rolling Stones concert,” Fitzsimmons said. “I saw a lot of press coverage about the Stones concert and Mick Jagger visiting different sites around the city, but I never saw anything about the vaccination tent.”

Fitzsimmons was not the only one unaware of the pop-up vaccination tent. Villafane did not see any media coverage of the vaccination clinic until after the concert.

“I didn’t know there was a vaccine tent at the event,” Villafane said. “I don’t think the media did a good job at promoting it.”

Despite the lack of coverage of the clinic, Fitzsimmons believed that the vaccination tent was there to encourage unvaccinated attendees to take advantage of the opportunity to be vaccinated.

“Pop-up vaccination tents can help people who do not have reliable transportation,” Fitzsimmons said. “If they’ve been waiting to get the shot but have no way of getting there, the tents are a great solution. The vaccination rate is not as high as we want it to be, so if we bring the vaccination to others, I would hope that people would feel more inclined to get it.”

Marissa Stenglein, a 22-year old substitute teacher, strongly encouraged events to host vaccination clinics.

“I think portable vaccination clinics are a good way to get more people vaccinated,” Stenglein said. “It is important for as many people to get vaccinated as possible. If you make it a quick and easy option like a mobile vaccination tent, the easy ability will incline more people to get vaccinated.”