Vaccine demand drops sharply across the Mid-South

Health experts concerned about vaccination slowdown

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Demand for the COVID-19 vaccine is dropping across the country including in the Mid-South.

It comes as polls show many Americans still don’t plan to get the vaccine, raising doubts about when the country can achieve herd immunity to end the pandemic.

Demand for the vaccine has fallen sharply in both Tennessee and Shelby County over the last two weeks.

WMC Action News 5 analyzed vaccine data from the Tennessee Department of Health.

The number of Tennesseans showing up to get their first shot fell 41 percent last week, compared to the previous seven days.

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In Shelby County, the number of people rolling up their sleeves for the first time fell 45 percent last week, compared to the previous seven days.

City and county leaders have also noticed the trend and say they’re concerned about an increase in COVID-19 variants in places like Frayser, where vaccine demand is low.

Officials tried several ways to get more people to sign up for shots, including giving away gift cards to stores like Walmart and Target.

“We continue to talk about what is the next step if demand doesn’t pick up,” said Doug McGowen, the chief operating officer for the City of Memphis.

On May 17, the mass vaccination site at the Pipkin Building in Midtown will likely close, taking with it more than 20,000 weekly doses.

“If the demand does not pick up by the week of the 17th and we do scale that back, what it means is it will just not be as easy or convenient for people to get their vaccines anywhere in the county,” said McGowen.

Officials in Arkansas and Mississippi says demand has also fallen in their states.

They’re now asking the federal government to send less vaccine.

As of Sunday, 304,327 people have received at least one dose in Shelby County, according to the Shelby County Health Department.

The health department says 102,000 people in Shelby County are fully vaccinated.

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