Study shows many in parts of Memphis hesitant to get vaccine


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There is new and concerning data from the CDC that shows a high percentage of people who are hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine live in southeast Memphis.

Twenty-eight percent of adults in southeast Memphis say they “probably won’t” or definitely won’t” receive the vaccine, according to a report by the CDC. That’s the highest rate out of all 49 areas surveyed in Tennessee.

The number paints an alarming picture for health professionals regarding what’s called “vaccine hesitancy.”

“I think the best thing that we as health care workers do to educate people and point out that we’re not deceiving them is to point out that we got the vaccine ourselves,” said Dr. Stephen Threlkeld, infectious disease specialist at Baptist Hospital in Memphis.

Threlkeld says the CDC data is concerning in light of vaccines being readily available and proven successful.

“The vaccine is the clear way to get us over this period without another surge, and of course, to get across to that place where we can all forget the masks and not worry as much about the social distancing. If everybody is vaccinated, we can put all that away,” Threlkeld said.

The report says percentages of those considered “vaccine hesitant” are also high in southwest Memphis and north Memphis, both at 26 percent.

The report listed Germantown and Collierville as having much lower numbers of people who are vaccine hesitant. Their numbers are only 18 percent.

Threlkeld says the best thing is for healthcare workers to meet with small groups, to educate and gain their trust.

“Until we do that we’re going to be left with that 25, 26, 28 percent of the people who are just going to be hesitant and not going to do it. And that will prevent us from getting to the full protection we need to get past this if all of those people don’t get it,” he said.

Estimated Hesitancy (% of adults who “probably won’t” or “definitely won’t” receive the COVID-19 vaccine):

– Memphis City (Southeast): 28%
– Shelby County (Southeast) — Germantown and Collierville: 18%
– Memphis City (Southwest): 26%
– Memphis (North) and Bartlett (Southwest): 26%
– Memphis City (Central Riverside): 25%
– Memphis City (Central Midtown): 23%
– Memphis (East), Lakeland and Arlington (South): 23%
– Shelby County (North), Bartlett (North and East), Millington: 22%
– Henderson, Hardeman, McNairy, Hardin, Haywood, Decatur counties: 27%
– Northwest Tennessee (Gibson, Dyer, Obion, Crockett, Lake counties): 26%
– Tipton, Fayette, Lauderdale counties: 25%

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