The National Aquarium will offer free admission to anyone 12 and up who gets a COVID-19 vaccination on site on Aug. 13, Aug. 14, Sept. 3 or Sept. 4. Photo by Marcus Dieterle.

Get a jab and see the fish.

That’s the message from the National Aquarium, which is teaming up with the Baltimore City Health Department to offer free admission to anyone 12 and up who gets a COVID-19 vaccination on site on any of the following days: Aug. 13 and 14 and Sept. 3 and 4.

This is the first time the aquarium has made this on-the-spot offer, which is worth $39.95 – the price of a ticket for one adult. Earlier this year it gave away 1,000 tickets to people who registered on a city website to be vaccinated elsewhere, but those tickets are no longer available.

The goal, aquarium officials say, is to give people who aren’t fully vaccinated an incentive to get a shot.

“Safety continues to be our number one priority, and we are committed to helping the city overcome this pandemic,” said Jennifer Driban, the aquarium’s Chief Mission Officer, in a statement. “We hope that a fun-filled trip to the National Aquarium will encourage folks to come out and get vaccinated.”

The aquarium didn’t offer free admission to the aquarium on its 40th anniversary this month, the way it has in the past, because it’s still operating under capacity restrictions. But for those who haven’t been fully vaccinated yet, this offer is just as good.

“If it gives people the push they need, we’re happy to provide that,” said public relations manager Jen Reardon.

Here’s how it works: The aquarium is providing indoor space on Pier 3 for a pop-up COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic on Aug. 13 and 14 and Sept. 3 and 4 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. those four days. All shots will be given by city health department representatives. The health department will have Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, Reardon said.

According to the aquarium’s offer, people can get their first shot or their second shot or both. The two weekends were selected so people can get a first shot in August and get a second shot in September and score two free tickets.

People who want to get vaccinated can register online at or call the COVID-19 call center at 443-984-8650 or simply walk up. After getting vaccinated, they’ll receive a voucher that is good for admission the same day or at a later date.

Reardon said admission is subject to availability, but the idea is that people can get vaccinated on site and then tour the aquarium afterwards. If they’re with a group and some people in the group already have been vaccinated, she said, the vaccination process isn’t expected to take very long. If they want to save the voucher for another time, she said, it must be used by the end of 2021 and it will be subject to certain black-out dates.

People must get the vaccine shots at the aquarium on the specified dates to get free admission, but they don’t have to be from Maryland to qualify. According to the aquarium, the offer applies to “anyone who lives, works in or visits Baltimore City.”

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Ed Gunts

Ed Gunts is a local freelance writer and the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.