MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The CDC says staff has been deployed to investigate the more than 2,400 vaccine doses that were spoiled in Shelby County.
This comes as the state’s health commissioner says the county mayor announced another violation when he said the county had been stockpiling 30,000 vaccines.
In the wake of this mess the city of Memphis has now taken over the distribution process. So far, people going through that line said the process is much better. But there are still logistics to figure out down the road.
On Thursday, the second day with Memphis in charge of the distribution of vaccines, a greeter met a steady stream of cars as they enter the Pipkin site.
“This time it was like a very well-oiled engine. Somebody did something different,” said a woman who was receiving her second shot.
Initially, she said, she was hesitant to even return. The first go around, when the site was under county management, she waited three hours and even ran out of gas.
Since the change of command we’ve heard similar stories. One woman reported 18 minutes from arrival to the waiting lot.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said today he heard from Tennessee’s health commissioner Tuesday. He says the city took over responsibility and accountability of vaccines Wednesday.
“I want to be clear our new role in the COVID-19 vaccination process is strictly about distribution,” Strickland said.
It’s also about inventory. The county health department still handles public health decisions, like health directives.
Strickland acknowledged taking over the distribution to different sites in the city isn’t easy but they have a plan with people in place.
“Almost every city division has been involved in the last 48 hours,” he said.
City Councilmember Patrice Robinson, who serves on the COVID-19 task force, said she’s not sure why the county fell short when giving vaccines. She thinks perhaps they didn’t have the expertise to coordinate a logistical process of this magnitude.
“We have offered to assist and they felt like they could do it and we allowed them to make that effort,” Robinson said. “We didn’t have a choice because it was in their purview and not ours.”
The mayor says for the remainder of this week if you have an appointment you don’t need to do anything. They’re working on their plan for next week.