'Get Vaccinated Chattanooga' coalition hopes to increase COVID-19 vaccine acceptance

Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Harrison resident Marlinda Powell talks to nurse Hannah Walker after getting her vaccination at the Howard School in Chattanooga on Saturday April 24, 2021.

COVID-19 vaccination sites look much different today compared to several months ago, when eager drivers would often sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic to get their long-awaited first vaccine dose.

On the last Saturday in April, cars sporadically pulled up to a drive-thru vaccination event in The Howard School parking lot. CHI Memorial's medical staff was prepared to administer 1,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine to anyone 18 and older, including walk-ups, free of charge. Only 53 people were vaccinated that day.

Perhaps the poor weather conditions kept more people at home, but the scene illustrated a concerning trend across the Chattanooga region and the nation - demand for COVID-19 vaccines has plummeted, and now health officials and advocates are facing the monumental challenge of trying to convince roughly two-thirds of the county that getting vaccinated is not only important for their health, but the health of the entire community.

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