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“Pop-Up Pods” Part of City Strategy to “Normalize” Vaccinations


With a goal of vaccinating up to 34,000 people per week for at least the next four weeks, the City of Memphis is working on a closer-to-home vaccine delivery strategy.

Thrice-weekly Pop-Up Pods, or temporary vaccination sites, will come to areas where demographic and zip code data show a need for more doses.

“We will work with partners who have come forward saying they will host a pod,” said City of Memphis Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen, adding that it’s one of several ways to speed up “normalization” of the distribution process.

Until recently, fixed-site pods – such as the Pipkin Building in Midtown and the Appling site in Cordova, along with area hospitals – were the primary sources of the state-allotted Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, each delivering about 1,000 shots per day. Hospitals have, so far, doled out about 65,000 shots. 

To get another 130,000 people vaccinated by the Easter holiday (April 4), the city is also working with “provider partners,” some of the hundred or so health-related agencies authorized to administer shots. These might include various pharmacies and health clinics. 

“As we bring on more agencies, more availability is going to come to each and every neighborhood,” McGowen said. “Today, as you know, you can go to the Walmart pharmacy and get a vaccination. [In the future] you’ll be able to go to any pharmacy, your doctor’s office – that’s a few months away, but that’s the direction we’re working towards.”

A more immediate challenge, said McGowen, is getting more vaccinations to homebound and homeless populations, or people with limited transportation.

McGowen said the Shelby County Office of Community Services, Memphis Housing and Community Development and the Memphis Fire Department are collaborating on a process to address those separate dilemmas. 

Currently, Shelby County is in phase 1c of vaccinations, which includes people ages 16 and older who have high-risk health conditions such as asthma, heart problems, diabetes, obesity or COPD. 

To schedule a shot, call 901-222-SHOT (7468). 


Reporting from the gates of Graceland to the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, Christopher's favorite haunt is the intersection of history and cultural change. He is WKNO's News Director and Senior Producer at the University of Memphis' Institute for Public Service Reporting. Join his conversations about the Memphis arts scene on the WKNO Culture Desk Facebook page.