Health officials: Goal is to vaccinate 700,000 in Shelby County by August


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As the county near the one year mark of the pandemic, health officials with the Memphis/Shelby County Joint Covid Task Force said it’s goal it to vaccinate 700,000 people by August.

“We’re aiming to get about 700,000 people vaccinated. By the summer, by about the first of August, so we need to do 40 to 50,000 a week to achieve that goal. So we are on our trajectory and on our way to meeting our goal,” said Doug McGowen, City of Memphis Chief Operating Officer.

The 222-SHOT phone line will also be moved over to a professional call center with more people and more hours.

City officials said they anticipate giving out 34,000 doses each week through five fixed sites and a sixth pop-up site that will be moved based on demand.

That number could fluctuate as roughly 10 percent of appointments are a no show. City officials asked those who do have to cancel their appointment to let them know ahead of time so they can make the spot available to someone else.

The city also said they anticipate getting more than 20,000 vaccines the week of March 15 – an increase from what they were previously receiving from the state. More appointments will be made available then for those doses.

Dr. Bruce Randolph with the Shelby County Health Department said he has not heard when the Johnson and Johnson vaccine will be distributed in the county, but encouraged everyone to get one of the vaccines when they are made available.

He also said that while the county is seeing a downward trend, residents still need to stay the course even if they have received a vaccine.

At the Pipkin Building on Tuesday, it was an easy in-and-out for people getting the vaccine. Memphis Fire Chief Gina Sweat, who is helping with the process, said the fire department is playing a big role.

“Our main responsibility is gonna be the distribution of the vaccine and the chain of custody until it’s delivered to the pod managers who are actually delivering the shots,” said Sweat.

As for whether citizens need to worry about whether they were given  expired vaccines, health officials said this:

“The doses expired, expired in pharmacy. They were thawed out in the pharmacy, but they never left the pharmacy to be used,” said David Sweat, Deputy Director of the Shelby County Health Department. “So no one was put in jeopardy of receiving doses that had been thawed out for more than five days 5:13 so that that issue did not prevail.”

 The city is also looking at whether to continue the VaxQue wait list that Shelby County started.    They will honor the 50,000 people who have signed up so far but are not adding any more names until they determine if they want to continue it or move to another system.

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