The Investigators: What to know about who’s eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in the Mid-South and how to book an appointment

Updated: Jan. 21, 2021 at 11:04 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Eliza Warren cares for her elderly mother part-time.

The 78-year-old has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which makes her particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.

“I know many people want to get vaccinated, and I’m certainly not the most important person, but I am just curious to find out when caregivers who take care of family members in the home will be in line for the vaccination?” Warren told The WMC Action News 5 Investigators.

It has been five weeks since the first COVID-19 vaccines arrived in the Mid-South and thousands of people are anxiously awaiting their first dose.

Where you live plays a major role in when you can be vaccinated.

So far, state health departments have released generic schedules but until more doses are shipped out by the federal government specifics are hard to come by.

In the Mid-South, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee are all in different phases, which dictate who qualifies for the vaccine right now.

Tennessee residents can check county phases on the Tennessee Department of Health website.

For example, Shelby County is in phases 1a1 and 1a2, which means first responders, funeral home workers and those 75 and older are among those who can get the vaccine.

The state’s website also shows which counties have vaccines available, and which ones don’t.

In Shelby County, vaccine is limited and all first-dose appointments for January are full.

When new slots open up, you will be able to make an appointment by calling 901-222-SHOT (7468).

Eventually, the Shelby County Health Department says you’ll be able to make an appointment online.

In Arkansas, the entire state is in phase 1b so teachers and those 70 and older are eligible right now to be vaccinated.

To schedule a vaccine appointment in the Natural State, go to the Arkansas Department of Health website and pull up its map to find the nearest pharmacy or health care provider offering the vaccine.

The contact information for each pharmacy and provider is listed on the site.

In Mississippi, there aren’t phases to follow.

Instead, the Mississippi Department of Health lists who qualifies for the vaccine right now, which can make planning ahead difficult.

Currently there are no first-dose appointments available statewide…

When more stock arrives, more appointments will open up. Go to the website, scroll down on the site and then click ‘appointment’.

Meanwhile, Warren hopes there’s enough vaccine available when it’s her turn because Tennessee’s vaccination plan does not include in-home caregivers if they’re not also healthcare workers.

“I’ll be driving my mom to get her vaccination on the 28th. I’ve just been hoping when we drive up I can say ‘hey, I’m her caregiver can I have a shot also?’” Said Warren.

With no appointments available right now, The Investigators asked the Shelby County Health Department if all vaccines were being used.

Dr. Alicia Haushalter said every dose is accounted for and none have been wasted or thrown away.

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