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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

MATA to partner with disabled community ahead of FEMA mass vaccination site opening in Memphis

MATAPlus and other transportation options are expected at the expanded vaccination site next to the existing Pipkin Building operation.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — "We just want to make sure that people with disabilities in Memphis and Shelby County have the opportunity to get their vaccinations," Memphis Center For Independent Living Executive Director Sandi Klink said.

That's the ongoing mission for Klink. She spoke Monday morning with MATA CEO Gary Rosenfeld about getting the physically and developmentally disabled to and from Memphis' FEMA community vaccination center, when it opens Wednesday next to the Pipkin Building in Midtown Memphis. 

"If it's a barrier, MATA wants to help with that," Klink said.

Last week, those overseeing the expanded federal site said the new Pipkin Building set up will include special areas for MATA vehicles and church vans carrying vaccine recipients.

Klink said the MATA CEO told her Monday the MATAPlus service is expected to play a major role.

Right now, Klink estimates it has roughly 6,000 registered disabled riders.

"It was a great indication to me that the main purpose and the main goal is to get more people to the vaccination sites," Klink said.

In a statement Monday afternoon, Rosenfeld said: “Similar to how the Memphis Area Transit Authority provided rides to testing for COVID-19, MATA is now preparing to do the same by working with the City/County Task Force to provide rides to the mass vaccination site. In addition, we are working with other groups to provide transportation so that transportation is not an obstacle to receiving the vaccine. We all recognize the importance of ensuring that as many citizens as possible receive the COVID-19 vaccine so that our community can attain herd immunity. Given that, it requires an all-hands on deck response.” 

Additional transportation details are expected in the coming days. 

COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us getting the illness. Different types of vaccines work in different ways to offer protection, but with all types of vaccines, the body is left with a supply of white cells (our infection fighting cells) that will remember how to fight that virus in the future.