Memphis field teams going door-to-door to increase COVID-19 vaccinations

Updated: Jun. 4, 2021 at 5:23 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - With President Joe Biden’s push to get 70 percent of the country vaccinated by July 4, communities are coming up with game plans to get more people vaccinated.

In Memphis, teams are hitting the streets to talk one-on-one with people about vaccinations.

The Our Best Shot field teams are hitting all the zip codes seeing the lowest uptake of the vaccine. Friday, a group was in the 38106 zip code near South Memphis, where they went door-to-door talking to people about getting vaccinated in an effort to get 750,000 people in Shelby County vaccinated by August.

“We are approaching this like a political campaign,” said field team leader Elizabeth Wooten.

Those opening their doors to the knocks of the field teams won’t be learning about any political candidate. The teams support one thing, vaccines, and their opponent is COVID-19.

“We’ve done the media campaign, social media campaigns, now it’s time to meet people where they’re at and that’s in their homes and in their neighborhoods,” Wooten said.

For over a week, the City of Memphis has had several teams hitting the streets to talk to people about vaccines. Their goal is to talk to people one-on-one about their vaccinations status, and why some may be hesitant to get the vaccine.

City leaders call the information the teams are bringing back invaluable.

“There’s nothing like one-on-one conversation to find out what their attitudes are, what they’re feeling, and what will help,” said Memphis COO Doug McGowen.

Wooten said teams have found those who are 55 and older tend to be vaccinated. So, they’ll start heading where young people are.

“I don’t think door-to-door is effective when trying to reach young people,” Wooten said. “We want to meet young people where they’re at. And where do young people gather? Pools, basketball courts, Overton Square.”

So far, the teams have knocked on more than 2,500 doors.

Vaccine demand has fallen across the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported for the first time that weekly vaccine administration across the country fell below a million shots. About 1,000 people are vaccinated a day in Shelby County.

The city hopes, with a team of young people ready to put in the miles and the knocks, 30,000 to 40,000 more people can get vaccinated by the end of the summer.

“Let me tell you what the most impactful thing is, my teams are young. They are energetic and they are vaccinated. That message of I’m vaccinated, I’m healthy, nothing negative, only positive things have happened to me, that’s the most impactful thing,” Wooten said.

The teams will be out until the Fourth of July. Next week, a team of Spanish speakers will reach out to the Latinx community with the same message.

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