Shelby County to wait and see how Biden executive orders affect local vaccines

Shelby County to wait and see how Biden executive orders affect local vaccines

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - With The Biden Administration aiming for a lofty goal of 100 million vaccinated in 100 days, movement toward that started Thursday with ten executive orders. Shelby County Health Officials said they want more vaccines here, but at this point they don’t know what will change under the new administration.

One of those executives orders aims to speed up the production of vaccines.

“We have not had any new information yet that we can share on how it would change the doses allocated to Shelby County,” Shelby County Health Department Deputy Director David Sweat said.

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With nearly 34,000 people vaccinated in the county, health officials said we’re still close to a year away from getting the 650,000 residents needed for herd immunity vaccinated. Right now the state is receiving about 80,000 vaccine doses a week. Shelby County getting 8,900 of them split between public health and the hospital systems.

“We get calls and emails form the community about why aren’t we using pharmacies,” Sweat said. “Well part of the answer is we don’t have vaccine for those sites to use.”

The slow distribution of vaccines has been felt across the country. In one of ten executive orders signed by President Joe Biden Thursday he put the Defense Production Act into use BY speeding up the production of vaccines and the materials needed to administer them.

“It would go from the federal government to the state and then trickle down to the county,” Shelby County Health Officer Dr. Bruce Randolph said.

The Tennessee Department of Health said it’s been told vaccine allocations are likely not to change in January, and they don’t know anything beyond that time.

More than 14 percent of those vaccinated in Shelby County are in the 75 and older age group. Many are getting ready for their second doses which the health department said will be held at its own site which has not been announced yet.

Federal leaders continue to recommend states vaccinate people 65 and up. Mississippi has adopted that change, but Arkansas and Tennessee have not.

“Part of the point in prioritizing folks who are above 75 is the vaccine should help us lower the mortality rates in those age groups,” Sweat said.

Case averages in Shelby County continue to go down. Now there are an average of 429 cases a day. Health Officials said it’s still too high, but it’s a positive trajectory.

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