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Thrive Hair Salon in Ballston hosting Covid vax clinic on Saturday

Ajia Minnis, Owner and Founder of Thrive Hair Bar at 1010 N. Glebe Road (Photo courtesy of Thrive Hair Bar)

Thrive Hair Bar in Ballston is hosting a free COVID-19 vaccine clinic this Saturday (Oct 23).

The clinic is in partnership with the Arlington County Public Health Division and part of the “Shots at the Shop” initiative, a White-House-backed effort to recruit Black-owned barbershops and salons to help increase COVID-19 vaccination rates in the community.

The program trains barbers and stylists to dispel myths and misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines, as well as provides a $1,000 grant courtesy of beauty care brand SheaMoisture.

“We saw the lagging COVID-19 vaccination rates in Black, Latinx, and other minority communities,” Thrive Hair Bar owner and founder Ajia Minnis told ARLnow via email about why they’re hosting the clinic. “Given the majority of our clients come from these communities we thought we might be well positioned to help dispel myths, help people feel more comfortable, and get more folks vaccinated.”

The clinic is from 10 a.m. to noon and is open to everyone 12 years old and older, in accordance with current guidelines. Only the Pfizer vaccine will be given. No appointments are needed and walk-ins are welcome.

Minnis says that they actually reached out to the county about holding the clinic after attending a course at the University of Maryland Center for Health Equity. It was there that she learned about the role salons have historically played in their communities in increasing awareness of health issues.

“As a community we need to serve each other and this is our small way of giving back to those who give so much to us,” says Minnis. “We want to not just be good neighbors but we want to also be valuable assets to the communities we love and serve.”

Fifty-nine percent of Black residents in Arlington that are eligible are fully vaccinated, according to Virginia Department of Health data. That’s comparable to the white population in Arlington, but both are lower than the Latino and Asian/Pacific Islander populations in the county.

Covid cases in Arlington have fluctuated over the past month but are currently down to just above 25 cases per day, on average, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data.

There remains a worry among some medical professionals that a fifth Covid wave could happen among the unvaccinated in the winter. This concerns Minnis as well and is another reason why she decided to hold the clinic now, as temperatures start to dip, she says.

Thrive Hair Bar opened in Ballston in August 2020 inside of Sola Salon Studios at 1010 N. Glebe Road. A former professional dancer and choreographer who traveled the world, Minnis opened the shop because of her experiences struggling to find a local salon that was well-versed in her hair texture.

“Our goal isn’t just for us to give [clients] a hairstyle and they walk away, it’s really to help educate women on how to maintain their hair and care for their natural hair,” Minnis told ARLnow at the time.

She says business ownership has been great so far, adding that she really enjoys being in Ballston.

“It has a modern, professional vibe with fantastic people but didn’t have enough salons that provide twists, braids and blowouts for all hair textures,” Minni said.

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