State could get 54k J&J vaccines, city ramps up to 50k doses given a week

Memphis hopes to vaccinate 700K people by August 1

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - More than a million more Tennesseans will soon be eligible for the vaccine. The Tennessee Department of Health announced it will move into phase 1c on Monday.

Phase 1c includes those 16 and older with high-risk medical conditions. Shelby County Health Department says an announcement will be made Wednesday regarding the county’s next move.

City of Memphis working to reach vaccination goals

However, with more doses on the horizon, we could get through phases quicker than we could earlier in this process.

Coming off its first week in charge of vaccine distribution the City of Memphis logged more than 41,000 doses given last week across the county. That is already nearing its goal of 50,000 a week to reach a big milestone.

“Get 700,000 people, 700,000 people across Shelby County, at least their first dose by August 1,” said Memphis Fire Director Gina Sweat.

Sweat is number two in the city when it comes to vaccine distribution accountability. Memphis COO Doug McGowan took on the top accountability role when vaccine distribution went from the SCHD’s hands to the City of Memphis’ hands last week.

Related | SCHD no longer in charge of vaccine distribution

City of Memphis takes over vaccine distribution

Right now the county is getting about 13,700 first and second doses a week and by March 15 the weekly allotment will be over 20,000. It could increase even more as the state is expecting its first shipment of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine Wednesday. About 54,000 doses are expected in that delivery.

To ramp up to 50,000 doses administered a week it will take a mixture of more partners coming online, more doses and more appointments.

The city said right now about 10% of appointments have been no-shows. It’s throwing a hurdle in proportioning out daily vaccines to public sites.

“I’ll be completely candid that is a working process to be as precise and tight as we can,” said McGowan. “You don’t want to undershoot and there isn’t enough vaccine for everyone to show up to their appointment and you don’t want to overshoot and have too many there and at the end of the day you’re bringing too much back into your inventory.”

Johnson & Johnson vaccine out for delivery after Memphis trial

McGowan said the five public vaccination sites can administer about 34,000 doses a week. The city looking into a call center to man the 222-SHOT number and working with the state to move away from signup genius to a more robust online sign-up system.

More pharmacies are coming online. The city announced more than a dozen Walgreens in town will start taking vaccination appointments on Friday.

“I believe we have capacity to continue absorbing through the model we have in place,” said McGowan. “Our partners we’ve engaged with them to find out what their capacity is to absorb more doses.”

There are still more appointments next week for people who need the second dose Moderna vaccine. The state said there are more than 200,000 open appointments at the state’s 89 rural health departments.

Copyright 2021 WMC. All rights reserved.