Tennessee facing COVID-19 vaccine shortage


MEMPHIS, Tenn. – State officials say Tennessee is facing a shortage of COVID-19 vaccines.

A rollout of two COVID-19 vaccines less than a year after the deadly COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States has been hailed as a medical breakthrough. The tricky part is making sure people who want and need the vaccine get it.

Tennessee governor Bill Lee says the state has been recognized by the CDC as one of the best in the country for distribution. But the governor made it clear: there just isn’t enough vaccine right now.

“What hasn’t gone well is we don’t have enough vaccine and that has created anxiety, it’s created frustration, it’s created long lines, it’s created misunderstanding for what vaccines are available,” Lee said.

The state’s Department of Health Commissioner was asked when Shelby County could see more vaccine delivered. She said she’s told counties to deploy the vaccine as soon as they get it.

“When it goes as planned and so far, it has is that the vaccines ship on Monday, they usually arrive on Tuesdays and then the portal opens up on Thursday nights for us to order the next weeks allotment,” said Commissioner Lisa Piercey. “So last night we would’ve gone in there and maxed out all the available ordering that we could.”

And then over the weekend the state is told how much of the vaccine they can get. She hopes Shelby County and other sites will be resupplied on Tuesdays.

“The allocations through the month of January should be pretty steady,” Piercey said. “We initially thought they would be around 90,000 a week it’s turning out to be 80,000 or maybe just a little bit above that.”

In part of his weekly update, Memphis mayor Jim Strickland said 24,700 people have been vaccinated in Shelby County, about 2.6% of the population.

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