Drive-ups welcomed without appointments at Pipkin Building for COVID-19 vaccine

No appointment necessary after 5 p.m. at FEMA vaccination site

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - In an effort to get more Mid-Southerners vaccinated from Thursday through Sunday walk-ins will be welcomed at the federal vaccination site in Midtown.

With FEMA’s mass vaccination site up and running in Memphis for two full days now, officials announced changes with the hope of boosting vaccination numbers.

“Effective this afternoon from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. we will reserve 500 doses for people who would like to come without an appointment, so it will be first come first serve,” Memphis Chief Operating Officer, Doug McGowen said.

This opportunity will be available until Sunday.

People with appointments during that time will be given priority.

Another change is next week hours at the Pipkin site will change from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“We are trying to capture people on their way to work so we’ll open an extra hour early to try to give people the opportunity to get their vaccine,” McGowen said.

Starting Monday, MATA will be offering rides to the Pipkin vaccination site.

“Anyone who is eligible for MATA plus services needs only to call 497-1598 and day I need a ride to get a vaccine,” McGowen said.

McGowen says MATA plus riders do not have to have a vaccine appointment before scheduling their rides, but for transit riders if you show the driver your appointment the ride is free.

McGowen made it clear they don’t want cost to be a barrier.

With FEMA’s mass COVID-19 vaccination site in Memphis running for two full days now officials say thousands of appointments are still not being filled and that’s why Wednesday all of the parties involved met and decided to announce the changes.

To kick off day two of FEMA’s mass vaccination site at the Pipkin building the site was sourced with 1,750 doses.

By mid-day, McGowen said appointments were not being maxed out.

“Yesterday we did have several thousand appointments go unfilled. Today we still have more than a thousand appointments available for individuals to take advantage of,” McGowen said.

Wednesday, 1,024 people were vaccinated at the site, 726 doses were returned to the pharmacy which McGowen says is standard practice and reiterated no doses were wasted.

“All 726 of those doses were returned to the pharmacy and put into the refrigerator. They have five more days that they can be used, and they were the first vaccines put out this morning to a number of other sites,” McGowen said.

To make sure no doses are wasted, McGowen says they look at the schedule and provide enough vaccines to cover appointments scheduled and any made the day of.

“The only time a vaccine dose is wasted is if it is pulled into a syringe, then it has a five hour expiration time, and once it’s in the syringe if we can’t put it in someone’s arm within five hours that dose becomes wasted. To avoid doing that our team on site keeps the vaccine refrigerator at the appropriate temperature. They look at the line of cars compared to the appointments and they only draw sufficient vaccine to serve the number of cars that are actually in line,” McGowen said.

McGowen did say he believes at some point we will reach a level where supply outweighs demand but he doesn’t believe we are there yet and they just need to get people to the site.

Copyright 2021 WMC. All rights reserved.