MEMPHIS, Tenn. – – Shelby County Health Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter addressed the media Wednesday after serious issues at a COVID-19 vaccination site.
“I think it’s important from my end really to apologize to the public,” Dr. Haushalter said.
People who showed up to the Pipkin building Tuesday waited in line for hours. The process was so cluttered that some people were turned away even though they had appointments to get vaccinated.
Turns out, there was enough supply but not enough nurses to handle the surge in people after extra appointments were made available online and by phone.
“We had more cars and people coming in than people able to give the vaccine in a timely manner,” Dr. Haushalter said.
Dr. Haushalter says staff has been doubled to accommodate more people but some of the issues causing congestion may not go away. For example, you need an appointment to get vaccinated but you’re not required to show any proof.
“If someone is eligible for the vaccine and they say they have an appointment we’re going to trust that they have that appointment,” Dr. Haushalter said.
Dr. Haushalter admits a number of ineligible people are also getting through.
“I, personally, have heard stories of people who admitted they were not honest when they came through the line,” Dr. Haushalter said, “If someone says I’m a healthcare worker but they’re really some other profession we don’t have a way to confirm that.”
There’s no word if health officials are attempting to close the loophole.
Dr. Haushalter says the line moved faster Wednesday thanks to the extra staff. She also says the department is adding vaccination locations. In fact, an announcement on a Whitehaven location is expected Thursday.
One more thing to note. Dr. Haushalter says people from outside Shelby County are not turned away at vaccination sites because the vaccine is a federal asset.