MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The state of Tennessee has cut the Shelby County health department out of vaccination distribution and instead, they’re relying on the city of Memphis hospitals and pharmacies.
“The reason was because of wasted vaccine and inefficient distribution of the vaccine,” said Dr. Lisa Piercey, TN Health Department Commissioner.
“All of the inventory that is in the Shelby County Health Department right now is being taken out, removed from the site and given to those partners for immediate administration,” said Dr. Lisa Piercey.
She said the health department wasted 2,400 doses in seven different incidents in the month of February and all of it rendered no good.
Piercey said the health department didn’t do a good job of keeping track of doses ending up with a stockpile of 52,000 doses which is about 30,000 too many.
Those are set to expire after March 6th.
“The people of Shelby County deserve efficient and effective vaccinations. It is our largest population center,” said Piercey.
The state has been in Memphis since Friday investigating reports of more than 13,000 vaccines thrown out because they were allowed to expire.
Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris said the county employee that managed the relationship between the health department and the pharmacy has been fired for allegedly giving false information about the number of wasted doses.
The mayor also wants the contracted pharmacist to be fired.
Dr. Piercey said the state does not want to take over operations in Shelby County because it would cause delays in getting a third party to run it. Instead, state health workers and the CDC are working in Memphis with the health department.
“They’re vaccine management experts in storage and handling and they are there to provide technical assistance as well as monitoring while we continue this investigation,” she said.
The state of Tennessee is continuing its investigation into what exactly happened with the more than 2,000 wasted doses of vaccine and expects the federal government to come in and take a look as well.