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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tennessee announced it would add 100 new vaccination sites across the state, with nearly 20 of those at Walmarts and other pharmacies in West Tennessee.

The goal is to make sure people in rural and underserved areas are able to be vaccinated. Local leaders who say this is a critical step in building public trust.

Dr. Keith Norman of First Baptist Church Broad Avenue says making sure the African-American community has equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines is important to reaching herd immunity.

“People are being receptive to taking the vaccine, which is good,” he said.

State leaders say they wanted to provide additional resources to “communities most vulnerable to serious and lasting social and economic challenges due to the pandemic.”

In Shelby County, 11 Walmart locations will soon serve as sites offering vaccines to people based on elgibility.

“Opening up other outlets and also trustworthy outlets, this will be very important, because we can’t just open a place or any place and expect to not have some concern about where they’re going,” Norma said.

Resident Annie Williams said these new locations would be especially helpful for elderly people.

“If it’s close in the neighborhood maybe they can get somebody to get them here so they can take it,” she said.

Norman says he also hopes there’s a plan to keep shoppers at the busy retailer separate.

“Walmart will really have to work that out so that those two groups don’t converge and create further issues.”

WREG reached out to Walmart for additional information but haven’t heard back yet. There is an online portal for vaccine appointments on its website.

The locations in Tennessee aren’t yet available for scheduling. You can find a list of the local vaccine sites here