Why many Memphians may not know they are currently eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine

City of Memphis working to connect every eligible person with a vaccine

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The City of Memphis says they want more people to sign up for hundreds of open vaccine appointments still available for later this week.

Officials say many people may not know that phase 1c has made them eligible for a vaccine.

The City of Memphis currently has a problem that we haven’t seen thus far, not enough people are signing up for vaccine appointments.

Officials believe the word comorbidities may partially be to blame. City of Memphis officials admit the word can be confusing.

Anyone with a medical comorbidity that makes COVID-19 more dangerous is currently eligible for a vaccine under the State of Tennessee phase 1c.

Shelby County moves into phase 1c of vaccine rollout

“Some examples of this include but are not limited to these: high blood pressure, diabetes, if you’re on dialysis, if you have asthma,” said Gina Sweat, director of the Memphis Fire Department.

One comorbidity that includes a large group of people is obesity.

According to the CDC, 35% of Tennessee’s population is overweight.

That’s why city officials believe the hundreds of vaccine appointments currently open this week should easily be filled.

“If you’re over 18 and have any of these medical conditions you are now eligible and it would be very important that you to get the vaccine now,” said Sweat.

Starting Tuesday, Mississippi opened its vaccine appointments to everyone age 16 and up.

With appointments currently sitting unfilled, city officials say they’re discussing that same possibility here in Shelby County with stare officials or possibly moving into the next phase of vaccine distribution.

Related | Mississippi does away with phased plan, opens vaccinations to all

“Certainly that is something that we are looking into,” said Dr. Bruce Randolph with the Shelby County Health Department. “We do not want a risk of vaccine going to waste.”

The City of Memphis has received its first allocation of 500 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Those vaccines will be used for a program reaching people who are homebound or homeless because of the J&J vaccine’s ability to travel.

Local leaders working to make sure the most vulnerable get vaccines

“You all know by now, understand that Pfizer and Moderna are a little harder to work with in the field because of the refrigeration and freezing and the time that you have to work with the vaccine,” said Doug McGowen, chief operating officer of the City of Memphis. “The J&J is much more stable and much more transportable.”

The City of Memphis also announced Tuesday that they are canceling all vaccine appointments for Wednesday due to the severe weather. Those appointments will be rescheduled.

For a full list of comorbidities that make you eligible for a vaccine at this time, click here: covid19.memphistn.gov.

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