Shelby County aims to vaccinate 5,000 people a day

Vaccines open to everyone age 16 and up in Tennessee

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Now every Tennessean 16 years of age and above is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. In Shelby County, thousands of appointments for the shot remain open with the federal mass vaccination site opening in a matter of days.

Monday is the deadline Governor Bill Lee gave counties to have all residents 16 and up eligible for the vaccine, but nearly every county was there before the April 5 deadline. Shelby County went into that phase last week, but the work continues to get people to sign up for the vaccine.

UK variant expected to be dominant strain in Shelby County by June 1

States across the country are seeing a ‘fourth wave’ in COVID-19 cases. While Shelby County health officials said it hasn’t happened here yet, there are trends in those fourth-wave states starting to echo here.

“What we’re seeing for the UK variant is similar to what they’re seeing,” said Shelby County Health Department Deputy Director David Sweat. “What it’s about is the transmission is skewed to those in their 20, 30s and early 40s.”

Sweat said that’s in part because of how many senior citizens are vaccinated in Shelby County. Of the more than 240,000 people vaccinated here, more than half are people 55 and older.

All Tennesseans 16+ eligible for COVID-19 vaccine starting April 5

It’s a trend that shows us the vaccine is working. In Shelby County, 69 percent of those with the UK variant strain or B117 are under 45 years old

“It’s pretty dramatic in the drop off after age 50 in these variant strains,” said Sweat.

So, Sweat is urging anyone 16 and older to get the vaccine. About 52,000 appointments became available for this week, but many remain open including the first day of the federal mass vaccination site on Wednesday where only 250 of the 3,000 available appointments were booked by Monday morning.

“We want to see people of all ages, male and female, if you’re eligible for the vaccine come out and get the vaccine,” said Sweat.

Federal vaccination site opens April 7

Sweat expects all cases of COVID-19 to be the UK strain by June 1. The Pipkin Building will double in size when the federal site opens Wednesday going from a two drive-thru site to having four lanes. There will also be chances to have an appointment for a walk-up shot.

To make an appointment click HERE.

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