People wait in line for hours to get COVID vaccine at Pipkin Building


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Despite freezing temperatures, long lines wrapped around the Pipkin Building vaccination site on Saturday.

The location is one of three sites open on Saturday that experienced reportedly long wait times. Several people told WREG-TV they waited a little more than three hours for their shot at the Pipkin Building.

But that was not the case at all the vaccination sites in the county.

“I feel like I’m at a Disney World automobile line for an attraction,” said Nancy Mardis, who was waiting for the COVID vaccine.

Weaving throughout the Liberty Bowl parking lot, people waited patiently in line at the Pipkin Building for their second COVID-19 vaccine dose.

“Traffic was backed up all the way down Central and wrapped around East Parkway. So, you couldn’t even get into the lots,” said Jim Wingett, who is waiting for the COVID vaccine.

Wingett says he got in line for a noon appointment for his elderly parents. When we spoke to him around 3:30 p.m., he was just making it to the front of the line.

“We shouldn’t be putting our elderly citizens through this. That’s for sure,” Wingett said.

The Shelby County Health Department says two the other locations, Southwest Tennessee Community College Whitehaven Center and the Appling Inspection Station, were open.

All appointments for each location were booked, but the turnouts weren’t nearly as large as at the Pipkin Building.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland made a post applauding the work at the Appling location saying volunteers distributed 647 vaccines with an 18-minute average wait time.

That’s a drastic difference from the nearly four-hour wait time at the Pipkin.

“I just can’t believe that we can’t get more organized than this as a community. It’s hard to reconcile in my mind,” Wingett said.

Despite the long lines and frigid temperatures, several people we spoke to say the vaccine is worth the hassle.

“It’s so important. Just not being able to get the coronavirus kind of offsets any of that for me,” said Dee Bond, who’s waiting for a COVID vaccine.

Mardis, who is 78, said that on top of the four hours she waited in line, it took her an extra hour just to get the ice off her car.

Still, she has no regrets.

“I think they’re doing the best they can,” she said.

The health department says nearly 70,000 people in Shelby County have received at least one dose of the vaccine, a little more than 25,000 have gotten both their doses.

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