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Why COVID vaccine outreach is still critical in 2023

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Posted at 10:07 AM, Jan 13, 2023

Health care professionals are continuing to push vaccine awareness in 2023.

Ted Lyons and his wife, both pharmacists, launched their Memphis, Tennessee, clinic, ShotRx in 2021.

"We really went all ten toes in and used our 401(k)s and everything and said we are going to start this clinic," Lyons stated.

The Lyons are still working to ensure COVID vaccine access is fair, especially for Memphis’ Black and Brown communities, groups often at a higher risk for preexisting conditions.

“People who have multiple, everything from diabetes to hypertension asthma, is really big in Memphis," Lyons said.

For patient Steven Tuggle, the reminder to get a booster shot comes from the pain that the families of more than a million Americans know all too well. 

“I had a brother that died from it two years ago. So yes, it’s important,” Tuggle said.

While Tuggle met Lyons at his brick-and-mortar clinic, much of ShotRx's work is getting the vaccine to communities that may not have access easy access to a pharmacy.

“We have to go to where people are and that's why we started this work, not just to be a brick-and-mortar clinic, but be primary mobile," Lyons said. "We go everywhere."

Lyons uses portable freezers to transport the vaccine to multiple outreach events each week.

Roughly 1% of COVID cases in the U.S. today are deadly, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

"It is different now. Our world is different," said Michele Hurd, a nurse who manages the ICU at MyMichigan Medical Center in Midland, Michigan.

The reality in her unit today is a far cry from 2021 when many of the beds were filled with COVID patients. Back then, she said many of them wouldn't survive.

Hurd says the amount of COVID cases in her ICU can now be counted on one hand. However, she notes that cases have risen in recent weeks in certain parts of the country.

“My world will always have COVID in it, I just plan on it. It’s what we should do. We should always be looking for what’s new in the research and how we can better treat these patients," Hurd said.

For Lyons and his patients, their answer to moving forward in a world with COVID is a mindset many have had from the beginning of the pandemic.

“I don't know if it's going away or will it go away but if it’s out there, I want to make sure I’m covered, and I don't want to hurt someone else," said patient Markell Taylor.