Officials: Shelby County now halfway to Covid vaccination goal

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County health officials said Tuesday they have reached more than 50 percent of their target campaign goal of 700,000 people vaccinated.

According to the latest data, more than 351,000 people have been vaccinated, more than 83,000 have been partially vaccinated and more than 268,000 have been fully vaccinated.

The city is averaging about 2,000 vaccinations a day, which is a slowdown from where they were at the peak. The good news is about half of those vaccinations are now taking place in local pharmacies and doctors’ offices, a sign that Covid vaccination is now becoming more part of routine care.

The city will continue to offer community pods and outreach events to help drive the vaccination efforts.

“We all have an opportunity to enjoy our lives and go back to pre-pandemic pursuits assuming we’re fully vaccinated. That is a very different outlook from previous holidays,” Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris said.

Health officials and local leaders said the biggest difference is the COVID-19 numbers are going down across the region.

“We’re averaging 89 cases a day. Our reproductive rate of the virus is .85. The numbers are trending in the right direction including in the hospital,” David Sweat, of the Shelby County Health Department said.

Sweat also points to the city and county vaccination campaign that’s making a difference with fewer COVID cases.

“We’re going do whatever we can to bring this lifesaving vaccine to people of Shelby county.  Right now, 50 percent of the campaign goal has been reached. We’re at over 352,000 vaccinated individuals,” Sweat said.

Harris added, “Our homebound efforts have delivered more than 3,300 doses of covid-19 vaccine to seniors and their caregivers through this effort, and this is the work that will add up.”

But to get the numbers to add up to reach herd immunity, more African-Americans, young people and children still need to get vaccinated.

“77% of our cases of those diagnosed were African-American residents, 56% were less than 35 years of age and 22% of them were in children,” Sweat said.

Harris says on a statewide basis, Tennessee could have done a better job to offer incentives to encourage people to get vaccinated.

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