MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The massive COVID-19 vaccine rollout across the state of Tennessee and in Shelby County continued with several positive changes occurring this week.
The lines to get the vaccine in Shelby County dwindled this week as the Health Department improved the vaccine process.
That, along with an increase in vaccine shipments from the Federal Government means we’re getting closer to moving into the next phase of the vaccine rollout.
This was the first full week since COVID-19 vaccines become available to the public in early January where there were hardly any reports of long lines or widespread confusion getting a COVID-19 vaccine in Shelby County.
On Friday, some people were turned away by accident while trying to get their second dose of the vaccine.
The on-going lack of vaccine appointments due to limited supply was the biggest concern during a relatively smooth week.
“So far we’ve wasted no vaccines,” said Dr. Jeff Warren, Memphis City Councilman and Member of COVID-19 Task Force. “It’s gotten out into people’s arms which is what we’re trying to do. And they’re heading out into areas of the community that have not had this vaccine yet.”
The Shelby County Health Department started giving vaccines to people age 70 and older and expanded the number of vaccine centers to four, opening new sites in Germantown, Whitehaven and the Emissions Building in Bartlett.
The Tennessee Department of Health said they expect Hospitals across the state to begin offering vaccines to the public soon with the supply of vaccines steadily increasing.
“They’re stringently focusing on equity and they’re trying to get it to everyone they can,” said Dr. Warren.
“We know that convenience and accessibility will be the best way to get the most people vaccinated the fastest,” said Dr. Lisa Piercey, TDH Commissioner.
Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey said in her weekly media briefing that starting this week and for the following two weeks, the state is receiving a 15% increase in COVID-19 vaccines from the Federal Government.
“While we are excited that we have an increased supply week over week, it’s still very much in low supply and not anywhere close to meeting the demand,” said Dr. Piercey.
Dr. Piercey believes it will take the rest of February to get through phases 1a1, 1a2 and those 70 years old and older.
“We are looking every single week of can we push farther, can we go to 65 plus and 1b, which is the teacher category? And if I can do that in two or three weeks I will absolutely do it as supply allows. Right now it looks like that may be at the 1st of March,” said Dr. Piercey
She said she expects the Federal Government to increase the vaccine shipment to Tennessee again at the end of February.
Meanwhile, in Shelby County and statewide, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations from COVID-19 have been decreasing since the beginning of January.