Shelby Co. Health Dept. working to improve access to COVID-19 vaccines

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The goal is getting the vaccine to more people.

Health leaders updated Shelby County Commissioners Monday on how vaccine distribution is going so far. They focused on equity and access.

The health department is working to reach more seniors who don’t have the technology needed to make an appointment online.

“We have more predictability from the state now regarding our allocations on a weekly basis,” Dr. Alisa Haushalter, the Shelby County Health Dept. Director, said.

That is good news for Shelby County. As the health department says this allows better planning for vaccine distribution and appointments.

Health leaders say they received more doses of the vaccine from the state last week and anticipate that to continue.

“We are pleased that it looks like the volume, the allotment will increase and so that’s going to make a major world of difference for us as we’re able to plan forward,” Dr. Judy Martin, of the Shelby County Health Dept., said.

With more vaccine available, now comes the other challenge of making sure those that desperately need it have access.

“We really are focused on equity and access trying to make certain that we are getting to those folks that have the greatest need,” Martin said.

Health leaders say to assist with that and address concerns from the community the health department says it will launch a phone line for people to make appointments or be placed on a wait list.

“We’ve been trying to modify what we do in terms of access with consideration of what our community looks like and then also the information that we receive as a critique. We use that on what we need to do to improve our services,” Martin said.

This week the health department will start to administer the second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. It will also open another site tomorrow on Bellevue and Walker, which will have limited hours.

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