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Fans are encouraged to get the COVID vaccine before the Southern Heritage Classic

"What we do know is that these vaccines work. They are safe, they are effective," said Elizabeth Hart with the Tennessee Department of Health.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The battle of the bands, the tailgates, music and pageantry all return to Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium this year for the Southern Heritage Classic, but one looming difference from years gone by is the ever-present Coronavirus. 

Classic founder Fred Jones said masks will by a key player in protecting crowds from COVID. There is also another tool to keep this from becoming a super-spreader event. 

"Taking the vaccine is the thing that makes it safer for everybody not only for the event, but for the individual and the individual's family and their friends," said Jones. 

Yes, there have been questions over whether going through with the Classic amidst the Delta variant’s surge was the right thing to do, but state and local health officials are putting vaccination opportunities squarely in the hands or arms for anybody who plans on attending Classic events. 

"We want to make sure that everyone who is attending is protected," said Elizabeth Hart from the Tennessee Department of Health.

The Mid-South loves football. Whether it’s Southern Heritage Classic or Memphis Tigers, fans will be able to pull up, roll up and get the shot. 

"One of the things that we do know is that African American and Hispanic Americans or Black and Brown communities have been disproportionately impacted by this virus," said Hart. 

The Classic is like a family reunion for 2 HBCU powerhouses.

In Tennessee, 14% of all the COVID cases are found in the Black community. This including 24% of hospitalizations and nearly 18% of deaths. 

While your neighbor may not know how COVID will affect you, your doctor or health professionals do. 

"What we do know is that these vaccines work," said Hart. “They are safe, they are effective.” 

You can get all 3 vaccines at the Pipkin Building at Tiger Lane on Saturday from 1-9 pm. 

Jones is promising 2 free tickets to the big game to the first 100 people in line.