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"It almost took my life" | Veteran shares why it's important to take the pandemic seriously and get a booster shot

The Memphis VA is offering the third dose of the Pfizer vaccine and booster shots to those who meet the criteria.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — COVID nearly killed veteran Kenric Conway a year ago and since then he’s taken the pandemic seriously. After he was diagnosed with COVID, Conway found himself having to be on oxygen for almost a year. 

“I was hospitalized for three weeks, it almost took my life,” said Conway. “They were close to putting me on a ventilator.”

Wednesday, he was one of the first in line to get his booster.

“When they came out with this booster shot I wanted to be the first in line to get the booster shot,” said Conway. “COVID is a very serious virus and it will take you down.”  

That’s why the Memphis VA wants to help boost immunity, protect against COVID and reduce hospitalizations and deaths.  

“Ever since we started giving the COVID vaccines we have given over 40,000 shots,” said Josh Sullivan, the associate chief pharmacist at the Memphis VA. "That includes first, second doses along with the third dose and the booster.”  

Third doses are available for those who have a weakened immune system and had their second shot at least 28 days ago.  

The criteria for the booster shots include being 65 and older and those 18 and older who work or live in a high-risk setting and had their second shot at least 6 months ago.   

Infectious disease expert Dr. Steve Threlkeld explained the vaccine is still effective when it comes to the serious infection that might put you in the hospital.

"The more time goes by some of the mild versions of the infection are more likely to happen if you’re really exposed because that first wall or rung of immunity kind of wanes down,” said Threlkeld.   

For Conway, arming yourself against the chances of getting COVID is worth the trip to the clinic.   

“If you’ve had COVID-19 and you’ve been hospitalized and you felt like you couldn’t breathe, you felt like you were drowning you’d think this was the best thing to prevent serious illness which I experienced,” said Conway.  

Veterans who meet the criteria for the 3rd dose or booster shot can receive it in the Bed Tower lobby of the Memphis Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center during the following days and times:

  • Monday, Wednesday & Friday from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM
  • Tuesday and Thursday from 12:00 to 3:30 PM.

No appointments for veterans are necessary for a shot or booster. Remember to bring your vaccine card. 

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