MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - After getting a huge number of questions into our newsroom from viewers who want to know why there have been so many problems in Shelby County with vaccine distribution and what they should do, we now have some answers.
The director of the Shelby County Health Department started off with an apology.
“I think it’s important from my end really to apologize to the public,” said Shelby County Health Department Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter.
Haushalter apologized for the debacle Tuesday at the fairgrounds where several people were told to leave after waiting in line for the vaccine.
“He said you, you to go back and leave because it’s closed,” said a 76-year-old Shelby County resident who did not want to be identified.
She was in line for five hours Tuesday. She set up her appointment almost three weeks ago and got a confirmation from the health department.
Haushalter said a combination of things contributed to Tuesday’s problems even though more than 800 people were vaccinated.
“There were some individuals that did not have appointments,” said Haushalter. “People want the vaccine. They get in the line. Also, we had increased the number of appointments because it was moving swiftly all the other days. Turnaround time was about 45 minutes.”
Wednesday the health department ran two lines of people instead of one line to vaccinate people. Haushalter said the staff was increased. She also said the health department will be entering into a contract with a temporary agency to get more staff.
The 76-year-old woman said, “I was disappointed because I was really looking forward to getting vaccinated. I was frustrated because I think it could be done so much easier.”
Haushalter agrees saying more vaccine locations will be added -- one in Whitehaven and Frayser.
She said there are plans to offer the vaccine at health care providers and some pharmacies. And she says there will be signs letting people know how long their wait will be.
If you had an appointment and were turned away the health department may contact you to reschedule or you can contact the health department. Haushalter said those people will have priority.
“The key takeaway is we recognize it was not what we want to deliver to the public and we will make adjustments and continue to improve,” said Haushalter.
Haushalter said you still need an appointment to get the vaccine. She said people without an appointment have been turned away. You do not have to get your shot in Shelby County even if you live here.
If you can get an appointment somewhere else, you’re good to go.
We’ve also confirmed the health department has sent out apology emails to residents who were waiting in line on Tuesday but sent home without getting a shot.
The email from Chief of Nursing Dr. JC Martin says quote “None of this should have happened”.
It says the department is working to figure out why people were told the location had run out of vaccine even though there were still supplies on hand.
Martin asks impacted patients to reach out and re-schedule their appointments.