Several community vaccination sites to close as demand dwindles

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County health officials said several community vaccination sites will soon be closing as demand for the Covid-19 vaccine dwindles.

On Thursday, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency left the Pipking building site after their allotted timeframe came to an end with far fewer vaccinations given out than anticipated. The site had the ability to vaccinate up to 3,000 people a day, but they never reached those numbers.

The Pipkin site will remain open under the direction of the Memphis Fire Department. The new hours will be from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Appointments are not necessary.

The Faith Baptist location in Bartlett will close on Friday. The following week, the Gill Center will close on May 27 followed by the Raleigh site at Greater Imani on May 29.

To date, Shelby County has vaccinated 49.2 percent of their campaign goal of 700,000 people. Overall, 36.8 percent of the population in the county has received at least one vaccine.

As summer quickly approaches and with the Memorial Day weekend just around the corner, there’s concern over what that combination could mean for COVID cases in Shelby County.

“Yes, I’m worried about the coming Memorial Day weekend, because a year ago our experience was the summer surge really kicked off following Memorial Day,” said health department deputy director David Sweat.

But Sweat adds that vaccines that were not available in 2020 could make a difference this summer.

“If we didn’t have 345,000 people vaccinated our case numbers would already be exploding, but because of those folks being vaccinated and vaccine protects against that B117 variant, all of that is helping keep our case numbers low right now,” Sweat said.

Low vaccination rates remain for African Americans, children and young adults.

“Those younger age groups, people less than 35 years old in Shelby County. Those are the age groups where the virus is spreading the most,” Sweat said.

Memphis Fire Chief Gina Sweat says the city is transitioning away from mass vaccination sites to community pods.

“We’re averaging around 2,300 vaccines a day, and it seems like half are being administered at our community pods,” she said. “To me that’s a good sign and that means we’re beginning to normalize vaccines. People are getting them at doctors’ offices and drug stores.”

Health leaders say they’re now hoping those who’ve been vaccinated will become ambassadors, sharing their stories and experiences with others who are on the fence about getting their shots.

Upcoming community vaccination events:

  • May 21: 2314 South Lauderdale from 12 to 4 p.m.
  • May 22: Greater Community Temple 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • May 23: Handy Park on Beale Street from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • May 23: 4350 Stage Road from noon to 5 p.m.

For more information on vaccination sites, click here.

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