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

'We need your support' | Military, local organizers encourage participation as FEMA vaccine site opens in Memphis

Adjustments could be made during the six-week operation to ensure demand meets the additional vaccine supply.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — "We are ready to get 3,000 shots a day and we need your support," Col. Jason Glass with the Tennessee National Guard said. 

Wednesday, under a large, newly built tent along Tiger Lane in Midtown Memphis, medical and military staff shared tables, supplies, and a common duty - putting COVID-19 vaccine doses into arms.

"This is a special day in Memphis because this is an opportunity to give light to its citizens and others," Rep. Steve Cohen, (D) Memphis, added.

Military organizers provided Rep. Cohen and others a tour of this FEMA community vaccination center, which opened Wednesday. It can provide Shelby County up to 21,000 additional doses a week - for six weeks.

"This is about being flexible and meeting people where they are," City of Memphis Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen said.

McGowen said that flexibility will be key, as organizers work to make sure the thousands of newly available vaccine appointments are filled.

"We are pushing on social media, Nextdoor, all those other platforms. Today we'll be talking about how to engage groups, so instead of individuals, we may be able to bring groups here for blocks of appointments," McGowen said.

McGowen said depending on how vaccine supply meets appointment demand this week, he conceded the FEMA site could eventually scrap scheduled slots for shots and transition to an open drive-thru operation without reservations.

"We will evaluate the conditions on the ground and do whatever it takes to try and drive more traffic," McGowen said.

Beyond cars at four available drive-thru lanes, vaccines will also be offered in a variety of ways at this FEMA vaccine site, including walkups, church vans and MATA vehicles. 

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.