MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Wednesday Shelby County Health Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter said they cannot turn outsiders away.
“It’s a federal asset, and we cannot turn someone away if they’re out of state or out of the county. That’s important for people to recognize, just like others can’t turn our people away if they go to their county because it’s a federal asset,” Dr. Haushalter said.
WMC followed up with the Shelby County Health Department to ask who specifically relayed those instructions.
They replied, “The Shelby County Health Department has received specific guidance from Tennessee Department of Health that no one who is eligible to be vaccinated can be turned away even if they are not a Shelby County residents.”
The department also said they are unable to provide information on the number of outsiders who may have been vaccinated.
Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris said they have to stick to what state and federal partners tell them to do.
“We don’t have the permission to do anything about it, in other words, anyone from Shelby County as far as I know can go to any site in America, and anyone in America can go to any site in Shelby County,” Harris said.
Both Harris and Haushalter ask that the public follow the instructions and stick to the phases.
“The goal is really urging the public to follow the instructions that are given which is one only come to the site if you have an appointment, only schedule an appointment if you are in one of the phases that’s been identified,” Dr. Haushalter said.
When it comes to people crossing state and county lines the Tennessee Department of Health said, “We encourage individuals to receive the vaccine in the county where they live or work. However, we know we have individuals who live in counties that border Tennessee.”
The Mississippi Department of Health said, “Those who live or work in Mississippi can receive the vaccine if they meet eligibility requirements. Those who qualify are able to book an appointment at any of our drive-through sites, regardless of county of residence. No documentation of residency is required.”
Over in Arkansas the health department said, “We have encouraged our vaccinators to vaccinate Arkansas residents or those living outside the state but working in Arkansas. We have also encouraged people to be vaccinated at pharmacies/clinics within their home county,” and said it’s likely people will be turned away because of limited supply.