Memphis community leaders step up vaccination efforts

Memphis community leaders step up vaccination efforts
(Source: WBRC)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Health leaders have made progress in recent weeks getting more people vaccinated, but there are still a lot of people who have not been vaccinated.

Community leaders are increasing their efforts to reach those people.

More than 266,000 people have been vaccinated in Shelby County, according to the Shelby County Health Department.

Of those, more than 149,000 have been fully vaccinated, meaning they have received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The rush is on to get more people vaccinated.

FEMA opened its vaccination site at the Pipkin Building on Wednesday.

It can administer more than 20,000 additional doses each week.

“I’m encouraging everyone to take advantage of this wonderful, once in a lifetime, once in a pandemic opportunity that not many cities get the opportunity to take advantage of,” said Doug McGowen, chief operating officer for the City of Memphis.

But city officials say thousands of appointments have gone unfilled this week.

Part of that may be lingering hesitancy.

A recent survey by KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation) found 13 percent of Americans say they will not get vaccinated under any circumstances, 7 percent said they’d get vaccinated if it is required, and 17 percent said they want to wait and see.

The same poll found people are starting to feel more comfortable with the idea.

But not everyone can make it to a vaccination site.

That’s why ShotRX and the NAACP Memphis went to them, hosting a vaccination drive Saturday on Vance Avenue in south Memphis.

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“We thought it was really important for those who were not as mobile as others to be able to walk up to a vaccination site,” said Van Turner, the president of the NAACP Memphis chapter and a Shelby County Commissioner.

“We’re right here in their neighborhood. They walk over and say ‘What’s going on?” said Dr. Ted Lyons, the co-owner of ShotRX.

Several people showed up to get their vaccine on Saturday, including Antwon Washington.

“Come get vaccinated so you can protect yourself and tell someone else to get vaccinated too,” said Washington.

Officials hope messages like that will reach more people in the days ahead.

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