Memphis Mayor: Capacity to distribute vaccine is there, but arms are not; no appointment needed through Sunday at Pipkin site

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UPDATE: Memphis extends no appointments needed period at Pipkin building vaccination site through Sunday.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — If you haven’t had the chance to get vaccinated, you still have time. Up until 7 p.m. Wednesday, Shelby County residents can get vaccinated at the Pipkin Building without an appointment.

City of Memphis officials said Wednesday anyone over the age of 16, can drive up to the site to get vaccinated without an appointment to get vaccinated. Several people WREG’s Quametra Wilborn spoke to took advantage early.

“It’s very convenient because it was taking forever to get into the health department or anywhere else. So therefore, I came on down when I had the chance,” said Sherri Williams.

Despite a dreary start to the day, people slowly rolled into line at the community vaccination center to get their first or second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

 “I got off at 7:30 a.m. and boom I wanted to go ahead and do that,” said Joey Grandberry.

Wide Open Wednesday (WOW) is part of the initiative to get more shots into arms. Mayor Jim Strickland said the capacity for vaccines is there but the problem is that the arms to put the shot into are not.

“Before the feds came in, we were doing about 30,000 shots a week. They gave us capacity of up to 50,000, but we still only have a demand for about 20 to 30,000,” he said.

Darrell Habisch with FEMA said since the federal government took over the Pipkin site, they’ve administered an average of less than 2,000 doses a day, which falls short of their goal of more than 3,000 doses a day.

Health officials said roughly 276,000 people in Shelby County have been vaccinated with either their first or second dose, representing about 29 percent of the population.

“We need you to step up and help us all get to that herd immunity, that community immunity that we’re striving to get,” said Habisch.

“We all need to get vaccinated. The more us who get vaccinated, the earlier we can, the more we can get back to normal,” added Strickland.

Health officials said this is their way of making the vaccine as accessible to the public as possible.

Since the community vaccination center opened, the city has tried numerous ways to get more people to get the shot, including extending hours and offering group appointments for churches and schools.

The no appointment vaccinations only apply to the Pipkin building. If you are under the age of 18, you’ll still have to a have a parent or guardian with you to sign a consent form.

If you already have an appointment at the Pipkin, that appointment time will be honored and you’ll be ushered to the front of the line.

More on the city’s COVID-19 website here.

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