MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Shelby County Health Department made a surprise announcement just after 5 p.m. Thursday, March 18.
If you are 55 or older or work in a critical infrastructure industry, you can now get the COVID-19 vaccine.
MATA bus drivers, FedEx employees at the Memphis Hub and MLGW crews are among the groups now included in Phase 2a/2b of Shelby County’s vaccination process.
Phase 2a includes social services, commercial agriculture, commercial food production, corrections staff and public transit.
Phase 2b includes transportation, public infrastructure, telecommunications and utilities.
SCHD spokeswoman Joan Carr told WMC Action News 5, “Shelby County made the decision to open up the new phase following discussions with the Tennessee Department of Health and with their approval.”
Earlier in the day, SCHD Health Officer Dr. Bruce Randolph defended the work of the health department.
The state’s final report on vaccine mismanagement and waste in Shelby County, he said, vindicated SCHD because it found no proof anyone received an expired dose.
“It exonerates the health department,” he said during Thursday’s COVID-19 Task Force briefing. “Because it shows we maintained the proper temperature, handling and storage of the vaccine.”
Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey responded by saying, “No other county in the state warranted CDC intervention. Shelby County residents deserve a solid improvement plan for vaccine services moving forward, not a defense of the status quo.”
State investigators determined 2,500 doses of the vaccine went to waste in Shelby County because they were left out of cold storage for too long.
The investigation also found the two children given vaccines last month received them at a vaccine site run by U-T Health Sciences Center, not the health department.
“It shows we did our job and you can hold your head up and not be ashamed,” said Randolph.
The state and federal investigation cost four people their jobs, including former health department director Dr. Alisa Haushalter who resigned earlier this month.