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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A COVID-19 vaccine is expected in Shelby County before Christmas, health officials told county commissioners Monday.

Shelby County Health Department Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter said those vaccines will arrive around Dec. 15 in hospitals and at the health department and will be free, with or without insurance.

Tennessee is one of four states to receive the initial vaccine.

Haushalter also told commissioners that the hospital system is “significantly stretched” and they’re concerned about a spike after Thanksgiving.

Dr. Bruce Randolph said the county needs 70 percent of people in Shelby County to take the vaccine for it to have the needed impact on the community.

The health department will get an estimated 22,425 doses. Area hospitals will have the following amounts:

  • Baptist: 1,950 doses
  • LeBonheur 1,460 doses
  • Methodist Germantown: 1,220 doses
  • Methodist University: 2,190 doses
  • Methodist North: 730 doses
  • St. Jude: 3,400 doses

In Phase 1a, vaccines will go to hospital staff, first responders and assisted living facilities. In Phase 1b, it will go to other health care providers. Phase 1c is teachers, correctional officers and others determined to have similar risk.