Shelby County nearly halfway to 700k vaccination campaign goal

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County health officials said the county is making good progress when it comes to their goal of getting 700,000 people vaccinated.

“We are in the best place we’ve ever been in this pandemic so far,” said David Sweat, deputy director of the Shelby County Health Department.

More than 545,000 vaccinations have been delivered to people in Shelby County. According to the latest data, more than 319,000 people have been vaccinated. More than 92,000 have been partially vaccinated and more than 226,000 have been fully vaccinated.

That level of vaccination brings us to 45.6 percent of the vaccination goal of 700,000 people vaccinated.

“Fourteen months ago, almost a million people in Shelby County were susceptible the virus and being infected. That number is now down to 300,000 people,” Sweat said.

More than 71 percent of Shelby County residents over the age of 65 have been vaccinated, along with 56 percent of those between the ages of 55 and 64. The group with the lowest vaccination numbers is the 16- to 24-year-olds, with only 20 percent vaccinated.

As for the mass vaccination site at the Pipkin Building, the federal government will be pulling out after May 19.

“The DOD, the Department of Defense, and FEMA team that’s there will remobilize or demobilize that site and go back to their home bases, but Pipkin will remain, for the foreseeable future, a vaccination site,” said Doug McGowen, COO of the City of Memphis.

There has also been talk about allowing children as young as 12 get the vaccine. County officials said once the federal government approves that, they will immediately begin allowing that at their vaccination sites.

“The exciting part about that is that adds another 50,000 eligible people to be vaccinated,” McGowen said.

In the meantime, the goal is to get roughly 80,000 people vaccinated in the next four weeks.

A new health directive is scheduled to be released next week, but officials said they could not discuss whether any of the mandates would be lifted since it’s still in development.

“The wording of that health directive is still being written,” Sweat said. “It will be available to share with the public on the 12th of May, next week, and go into effect on the 15th of May.”

To get more people to get vaccinated, the City of Memphis is trying to spread the word about registering to win a new car in its “Shots for a Shot” sweepstakes.

“There are some folks who believe ‘If I’ve already had my vaccination shot, I’m not eligible.’ That’s not true,” McGowen said. “If you’re in Shelby County, 18 years or older, and you’ve already received a vaccine or will receive the vaccine before May 31, you’re eligible to enter the sweepstakes.”

McGowen says the business community stepped up to make a generous contribution to the car sweepstakes campaign. He says the City of Memphis did not have to foot the bill.

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