City offers ‘swag’ like gift certificates to get COVID shots into arms


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The city of Memphis is doing what it can to get more COVID vaccine shots in arms, even if it means offering some “swag.”

It’s the latest push seen from the weekend to lure people on the fence about getting their shots to roll up their sleeves at fema’s mass vaccination site at the Pipkin Building: The city deciided to give free stuff to local citizens. 

On Friday and Saturday, the city offered the first 2,500 people to get their vaccines here to receive either the Walmart or Kroger gift cards. About 1,600 people showed up each day.

Even though it’s far less than the 2,500 they wanted, 1st Lt. Sydney Murkins said they saw a difference.

“We absolutely believe that the gift cards had an effect on the turnout at the Pipkin site. We saw an influx in traffic and actually right across the way at Tiger stadium,” Murkins said.

“I think we have to do some things that are out-of-the-box and not apply a one-size-fits-all strategy to vaccinate as many people as we can,” City Councilman Martavious Jones said.

It’s an approach some say will be needed to get more people vaccinated in Memphis and Shelby County.

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