Councilman wants investigation into health department to be quick and public

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Last week, the Tennessee Department of Health exposed layers of mismanagement related to the Shelby County Health Department. Data showed the health department allowed 2,500 vaccines to expire, a volunteer may have stolen doses, and two children were vaccinated.

The City of Memphis now has the authority of storage and transportation for the five public sites and pop-ups, scheduling public sites, and allocating public sites, hospitals, and clinics.

RELATED: City of Memphis plans to vaccinate more than half a million people by the end of summer

”We did not get authority to make public health decisions, such as what phase we are in and any limitations on businesses because of COVID,” said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.

The Tennessee Department of Health granted the city the authority after an investigation revealed the county allowed 2.500 doses to go to waste. A volunteer may have stolen vaccines, and two children were vaccinated.

These mistakes pushed Councilman Chase Carlisle to propose a resolution asking for the state and federal investigations to be expedited and made public. In the meantime, he argues the county should stay out of the vaccine process.

Other council members weighed in during Tuesday’s meeting.

“I have no faith in the current Shelby County Administration as it is currently constituted to be able to deliver on their responsibilities,” said Memphis City Councilman Worth Morgan. “It wasn’t just one error. They had plenty of time to deliver on their responsibility.”

“I do feel like we should give them the opportunity to address it. I wouldn’t want the commission to go over my head or initiate some things they haven’t addressed,” said Councilwoman Rhonda Logan.

RELATED: Vaccine efforts continue in Shelby County as City of Memphis takes over distribution

Because of differences in opinions, they decided to amend the resolution and vote later.

Mayor Strickland also touched on another very concerning topic, whether expired vaccines are harmful.

“Commissioner Piercey told me expired vaccines are not harmful, only potentially less effective,” he said.

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Throughout the pandemic, people have been scheduling vaccination appointments either through signup genius online or 222-SHOT. Starting March 15, people will be allowed to use the state-run site.

The county plans to vaccinate 700,000 people by August 1.

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