MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The City of Memphis is laying out its plan to distribute the growing number of COVID-19 vaccines coming into Shelby County.
The responsibility switched from the Shelby County Health Department to the city after a state investigation found 2,400 wasted doses and more than 50,000 doses sitting on the department’s shelves.
The City of Memphis officially took over the responsibility of distributing the vaccine Wednesday at 10 a.m.
While Mayor Jim Strickland calls it a gargantuan task, the city is trying to make it seamless and hopes those with existing appointments don’t see much of a difference.
“Our goal is to put as many shots in your arms that we can,” Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said. “Within weeks this community will start getting 40,000 doses a week, 50,000 doses a week.”
Just over 24 hours after taking on the community’s vaccine distribution, City of Memphis officials said they are well on their way administering the Shelby County Health Department’s goal of 40,000 doses this week.
That includes thousands of teachers.
“This morning the Memphis Fire Department successfully withdrew and transported 6,750 doses to eight locations across our county,” Strickland said Thursday.
The city said the tens of thousands of vaccine doses the state found in inventory at the Shelby County Health Department were brought to the city’s site at Regional One by 10 Wednesday night.
By that time the city had also secured 15 ultra-cold coolers so the doses could be safely stored and transported.
The city had zero at the start of the week.
Now, the work begins to get more people vaccine appointments.
“For next week we are working on a plan for appointment scheduling,” Strickland said. “We are planning to administer roughly 17,000 first doses and almost 13,000 second doses.”
If you have an appointment next week it will be honored.
More sites are coming online as well including 28 Kroger pharmacies between Jackson, Tennessee and Memphis.
The City of Memphis is planning two pop-up vaccination sites this week in Whitehaven and southeast Memphis.
The city will also take over the 222-SHOT hotline so if you do not have internet access you can still call to make an appointment.
Mayor Strickland stressed the city’s role in the vaccination process is just distribution. When it comes to moving phases that’s still the health department’s call.
It also has information about partnering sites with the vaccine.
The Tennessee Department of Health is also urging Shelby Countians to take advantage of the open appointments that are still available.