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

'We are making several pivots' | You can get a COVID-19 vaccine without an appointment at Memphis' FEMA site through Sunday

The move comes as thousands of appointment slots remained unfilled in the coming days. Others are canvassing neighborhoods to encourage more shots in arms.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — "We need to be in the community, fostering trust, fostering enthusiasm to go ahead, pull up and get vaccinated," Dr. Ted Lyons said.

Dr. Lyons outlined that initiative Thursday morning, as he and other Black leaders at the Memphis NAACP branch plan to ramp up a direct, in-person vaccination participation push in underserved areas of South Memphis and elsewhere.

"We are talking to them, educating and then they decide that moment, that day, that they want to go ahead and get the vaccination," Dr. Lyons said.

Dr. Lyons said there's an ongoing obstacle for many on the fence about getting the shot, including minorities.

"It's safe, it's effective and the hesitancy that we have around the government and the medical system, it's time for us to face the facts and not base it on feelings," Dr. Lyons said. "Feelings aren't facts."

The vaccine participation challenge was also magnified at the FEMA vaccine site in Midtown Memphis Thursday morning. Organizers announced they'll set aside 500 daily doses through Sunday - from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. - for anyone who wants a shot, no appointment necessary.

"For individuals who have an appointment at the Pipkin Building during that time, I want to assure you that you will be given priority and will not have people without an appointment go before you," City of Memphis Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen said.

McGowen said those at the FEMA site will make other adjustments as needed to boost vaccine numbers locally. That includes the possibility of hanging door tag reminders and encouraging group rides.

"We are going to do everything we can to make it as easy as possible for folks, to drive as much awareness as we can," McGowen said.

Starting Monday, around 6,000 MATAPlus customers can get rides to and from this FEMA vaccination site. Appointments for those ride opportunities begins from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Sunday by calling (901) 497-1598. MATA riders with proof of an appointment can also get a free ride to one of several routes that drops off near the Liberty Bowl.

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.