MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - According to Governor Bill Lee’s office, the soon to come FEMA Community Vaccination Center at the Pipkin building will make Memphis home to the largest mass vaccination site in the state.
A potential 21,000 additional shots administered every week.
It could be a game-changer if people show up.
During the pandemic, the Pipkin Building has worn many hats.
First, it was a COVID-19 testing site then a county-run vaccination POD, last month the city took over operations and now the federal government is moving in.
The Pipkin Building will be converted into one of about 25 FEMA Community Vaccination Centers open across the country.
“It’s part of our work to equitably distribute vaccines and reach communities hurt the hardest by the pandemic,” said White House advisor Andy Slavitt
Mayors Jim Strickland and Lee Harris praised the announcement coming from the White House.
For the next six to eight weeks FEMA will use their own staff and their own vaccines to put 3,000 shots in arms 7 days a week.
“So getting more vaccine out locally is a terrific thing even though we have to look at the national picture so it is our way out but it does pose a challenge that we need to get people to actually take the vaccine,” said Infectious Disease Doctor Steve Threlkeld.
FEMA chose this location due to the city’s low uptake of the vaccine.
By the White House’s calculations, only about 17.5% of the population has been vaccinated.
Threlkeld says supply is important but increasing demand for the vaccine is important as well.
”Getting people educated at least to me about the vaccine in a respectful, but scientific manner is the place where we are in fighting the infection,” he said.
FEMA says the Pipkin Building at the Liberty Bowl is the ideal location since it includes adequate parking and access to public transportation.
However, Memphis City Councilman Martavius Jones says he’d like to see more vaccines in other parts of the city.
“Taking the vaccinations closer to where people are, it’s still a large city, we have pockets where people may not venture Downtown,” said Jones. “They may not venture to Midtown or Cooper-Young, but we can have some in Westwood, in Frayser in multiple sites and other pockets in Memphis.”
Additional community pods could open up.
With the federal program moving in Strickland tweeted Wednesday:
The new mass vaccination site will open on April 7 and sign-up will be similar to what is done now on sign-up genius.