Shelby County health experts say thousands of vaccine slots are available; more groups need to get vaccinated

Coronavirus

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — These days, more COVID-19 vaccine shots are available than ever, but the challenge is getting people to take them.

In Memphis and the Mid-South, gone are the days of there being a shortage of coronavirus vaccine. Thousands of vaccine slots are now available, but not everyone is taking advantage of it.

Health experts say men are not getting vaccinated. Dr. Jeff Warren, a COVID task force member, a family physician and city councilman, recently told WREG politics, not science, could be a factor.

“One of the people involved in this told me, ‘Jeff the only way we’re going to get this fixed is how to get Republican men to take the vaccine,’” Warren said. “This has become somewhat political and crazy, but that’s pretty much a major group that we need to make sure that get vaccinated.”

Dr. Manoj Jain, an infectious disease physician, says men need to step up.

“Our women are very health conscious in many ways. Men are not as so much, and we really need to make sure both men and women are vaccinated. We need to raise the number of vaccinations in our county, if we want to be all protected to reach that herd immunity,” Jain said.

Experts say between 70% to 90% of all Americans must be vaccinated for the country to reach herd immunity.

But many younger people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s are not getting their shots either.

“COVID fatigue is playing a huge factor,” Jain said. “It’s really the young people spreading both the spread of the virus as well as the mutant strains of the virus that we’re seeing. So, what we’re really asking, now that the vaccinations are open to anyone over 16, is for young people to go get vaccinated.”

Another demographic where there’s been vaccine hesitancy is with African American and underserved communities, possibly linked to government distrust, which experts says has to change.

“The underserved community, we need to step up to offer the vaccine and make it more accessible and also we need leaders from that community to get the message out,” Jain said.

If you’re interested in getting the vaccine, 500 slots are open Friday through Sunday night at the mass vaccination site at the Pipkin Building. No appointments are needed between 5 p.m. – 8 p.m., but it is first come, first serve.

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