Shelby County offering more incentives in hopes of increasing vaccine totals

Updated: Apr. 22, 2021 at 5:19 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County health leaders said we’ll be lucky to see 20,000 vaccines administered this week.

So, they hope once again money will help influence people to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

At the city’s newest vaccine site in Frayser, gift cards were passed out Thursday, and the same plan is in place for Friday at two other community sites.

“There was a slightly improved rate this morning at the Frasyer site, but still not at the rate we’d like to see it,” City of Memphis COO Doug McGowen said.

A new two-day a week community vaccination pod opened this week in Frayser at the Southwest Tennessee Community College campus on Mountain Terrace Street.

On its first day of operation on Tuesday they had hoped for 300 people to come through, but less than 100 showed up.

On Friday $20 Kroger gift cards will be handed out at the Raleigh location at Greater Imani Church, 3824 Austin Peay Hwy and at the Whitehaven location at the area’s Southwest Tennessee Community College campus at 1234 Finley.

“As of this week we’re on pace where we’ll be lucky to hit 20,000 vaccines this week,” McGowen said.

More than 40 percent of the county’s eligible population for the vaccine has been vaccinated, that’s more than 300,000 people.

Those in charge of the county’s vaccine distribution said the time to get as many shots into arms as possible is winding down.

On May 17, the federal site at the Pipkin Building will likely close down, and with it, more than 20,000 extra vaccines will leave Shelby County.

Around that time, some leases and agreements at other community sites will be close to ending.

“If the demand does not pick up by the week of the 17th and we do scale that back what it means is it will just not be as easy or convenient for people to get their vaccines anywhere in the county,” McGowen said.

McGowen said residents may have to rely more on the private partners and their vaccine administration schedules.

“The next four weeks are critical. The capacity to do 60,000 vaccines per week over four weeks means we could get another 240,000 people vaccinated,” McGowen said.

Along with incentives like gift cards, the City of Memphis is continuing another route that helped boost demand which is allowing people to get the shot without an appointment.

Next week most public vaccination sites will allow you to get the vaccine without an appointment.

“I do want to make the point that there is a tradeoff for a no appointment system,” McGowen said. “That tradeoff is there will be a fixed number of vaccines available at those sites where there are no appointments.”

If you prefer making an appointment there will be certain sites on certain days where you can do that. Those schedules will be up on the city’s website by Friday afternoon.

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