Short lines at Memphis vaccine site as FEMA makes push to get more people to come


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — At mid-morning Monday there were no long lines at the Pipkin Building, and those who did show up for COVID vaccines were in and out in minutes.

”It is really streamlined. It is really easy, doesn’t take too long,” said one of the people who received the vaccine at the Pipkin Building Monday.

Darrell Habisch is with FEMA and is one of about 200 federal workers who are on a six-week assignment to help get more people vaccinated. Between two drive-through areas, they can give a lot of shots.

“This facility has the capacity to do 3,000 vaccines per day. That is pretty awesome. All we need are the folks to come out,” Habisch said.

They have even extended hours at Pipkin. A marketing push is also on to get people to come out.

That includes social media, TV, radio, emails, texts and billboards.

“What else is it going to take? Talk to each other. Talk to your family. Talk to your health care provider. Get the facts,” Habisch said.

And even if there aren’t many cars going through the line, city officials say there is a plan to make sure no vaccine goes to waste.

There is a five-hour time limit on the vaccine once it goes out of the refrigerator and into the syringe, they have to time everything perfectly.

“They look at the line of cars compared to the appointment and they draw sufficient vaccine to serve the actual cars in line. So that we know for sure once that vaccine is in a syringe it goes into somebody’s arm,” Memphis COO Doug McGowen said at COVID the task force briefing last week.

The whole idea is to get more shots into more arms.

“We are working together to make all of this possible. So now is the time to really take advantage of it,” said Habisch.

The City of Memphis says to get more people vaccinated, they have expanded hours, opened up no-appointment-needed shots, and offered group appointments for churches, sororities, fraternities and athletic groups.

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