MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Seven hundred appointments filled in minutes. A new set of second dose vaccination appointments were opened Tuesday, but for many due for their booster this week, they saw slots were filled within minutes of being notified.
Thousands of people are due to get their second dose of the COVID1-19 vaccine this week. So far only two days have been set aside for those appointments this week and for some, anxiety is reaching a boiling point.
“Anybody who has got a first dose in Tennessee is guaranteed a second dose,” said Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey.
A definitive statement coming from Tennessee’s top public health official. For some without a second dose vaccination appointment, it’s not enough.
“I’m so angry. Something is terribly wrong. This is not right,” said Shelby County resident Eda Fain.
Moments after Fain was alerted of new second dose appointments available at Germantown Baptist Church she logged on to make one for her husband, who is due for his second Moderna shot this week, but she saw all 700 slots were already booked.
“I can’t believe that quickly, 700 people were able to [book them]. Something is terribly wrong,” said Fain.
“We do monitor throughout the day and as we can we open up more slots,” said Shelby County Health Department Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter. “We did open up in partnership with Germantown an additional day. The City of Memphis has reached out to ask how can we assist.”
Just over 1,000 appointments are available for second doses this week, but thousands more people are becoming due for that booster. They include those who have had the Moderna shot through Jan. 20 and Pfizer through Jan. 27.
The Shelby County Health Department said it’s working to create a system where second dose appointments are made immediately after your first dose.
“We are working on technology in partnership with the state and our local IT to be able to schedule second appointments either at the time their first appointment is made or when they get the vaccine,” said Haushalter. “We’ll continue to work on that throughout the week.”
SCHD said it didn’t go to this system from the beginning because they didn’t have enough predictability of allocations or staff. However, residents still feel they aren’t being alerted in time. Fain says she checks the website more than a dozen times a day.
A big concern for those looking for second dose appointments is how late is too late to get the booster shot. More public health leaders are saying you can wait up to six weeks after your first shot for your booster.
“It doesn’t have a negative impact on the outcome,” said Haushalter.
“It’s not a negative for you to wait a few days after that,” said Piercey.
Tuesday the Tennessee Department of Health said according to the CDC it is recommended that second shots be given within six weeks of the first shot.
“So far we haven’t had any incidents of someone who was due for a second shot didn’t get one and we want to keep it that way,” said Piercey.
Not all doctors see it that way. Dr Anthony Fauci said over the weekend the timeframes should be followed.
As more COVID-19 variants pop up in the community, first a presumptive positive of the UK variant now a presumptive positive for the Brazilian variant, Fain doesn’t want any more delays.
“Concerns have been ramped up with the appearance of these new variants,” she said.
The Shelby County Health Department said the best way to know about appointments is to frequently check its website. It’s continuing to assess days to open more appointments.
So far more than 83,000 people are vaccinated in Shelby County. More than 22,000 have both doses.