MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The vaccination operation at the Pipkin Building will be soon become the site of the next FEMA Community Vaccination Center next week. Now we know MATA will help people get there.
The goal of the site is to get as many people vaccinated as it can, and be a site accessible to all.
By the weekend, a tent the size of a football field will be up next to the Pipkin Building allowing for a capacity of 3,000 shots to be administered there a day.
“The new allocation of vaccines will allow us to go faster and have more broad reach throughout the community,” said Memphis Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen.
Starting Wednesday, for six weeks, FEMA and other federal personnel will take over the Pipkin Building as the next federal community vaccination center. The site comes with its own vaccines at 21,000 a week. That paired with what the county will administer will allow for more than 50,000 shots in arms a week.
“This is an exciting time for us. We’ve been waiting for an uptick and we believe we have the demand,” said McGowen.
McGowen has been working with FEMA to set up the site. He said with the addition of the tent, the Pipkin building will go from two drive-thru lanes to four. Federal partners wanted a site that could accommodate those without transportation.
The White House noted one in ten households in Memphis does not have a vehicle. Federal sites opening in Newark and Norfolk this week show mainly a walk-up, with appointment vaccination method.
That will be available at Pipkin, and the agencies are also working on coordinating rides for those who need them.
“We’re asking our church partners to bring people to the vaccination site,” said McGowen. “A lot of our churches have a van or a larger transportation system to get people to services.”
MATA said it’s finalizing details with the city to provide rides to the Pipkin Building. In a tweet, late Thursday afternoon the city’s public transit authority said information on how to sign up for a ride will be released soon.
With the addition of the community vaccination center, more than 52,000 appointments will open for vaccinations next week. While health officials say to this point Shelby County’s demand has outweighed our supply, the tipping point could be soon.
“When you jump from 30,000 plus to 50,000 plus appointments we’ll find out how quickly they fill up and what the demand is,” said McGowen.
McGowen said in the days leading up to and following the opening of the site, information will be pushed out to the entire community about the importance of vaccines.