Memphis councilmember calls for health director’s resignation

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis City council member Chase Carlisle is calling for Shelby County Health Director Alisa Haushalter’s resignation.

He also wants to see her senior leadership out.

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This stems from the scandal surrounding the vaccines tossed out in Shelby County. FOX13 also learned that a member of the CDC is coming to Shelby County to help out with COVID-19 vaccine management.

Within roughly 24 hours, the City of Memphis activated a robust plan to take full responsibility for vaccinating people across Shelby County. This comes after the state stripped the county of its responsibility after 2,400 COVID-19 doses expired.

“This week we anticipate putting out somewhere between 30 to 40,000 doses, which will allow us to accept new doses,” said Doug McGowen, Memphis Chief Operations Officer.

The city plans to get more than 17,000 first doses into people’s arms as well as nearly 13,000 second doses. It also plans to change up some systems to make the process better.

“From the public’s standpoint, citizens will not need to do anything differently,” said Jim Strickland, (D) Memphis Mayor.

For the time being, people should continue using sign-up genius to schedule appointments. City leaders say that process will transition to a system the state uses in up to two weeks. (901) 222-SHOT will remain the number to call to schedule appointments.

“Our 222-shot is labor-intensive, so we’re going to add capacity there to capture volume of calls,” said McGowen.

Health Director Alisia Haushaulter says any talk about her staying or going is between her and the mayor.

City Councilman Chase Carlisle says it’s clear, the county health department is a mess and needs new leadership.

“We need to know what mistakes were made, why they were made, how they were made, so we don’t repeat them,” said Carlisle.

Councilman Chase Carlisle is fed up. So fed up, he’s presenting a resolution to the city council Tuesday, calling for Health Director Alisa Haushalter to be fired and state and federal investigations launched into how the health department allowed 2,400 COVID-19 vaccine doses to expire.

He’s also concerned about a state investigation that found 51,000 doses, sitting on the shelf unused.

“To find out that we have doses sitting above and beyond the recommended levels in a storage facility while people are scrambling to figure how to save their life by getting a vaccine is incredibly disheartening,” he said.

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“What I’m really asking my colleagues to do is take a stand and to say that we want to save lives.”

FOX13 asked the health department for a comment on Carlisle’s resolution but we were told Director Haushalter has no comment.

However, later in the evening, she talked about the health department’s mistakes during a panel discussion.

“This is a global pandemic that none of us have faced in our lifetime and it is particularly with the vaccine distribution much like building a ship at sea during the storm with lighting and everything else happening so there are along the way errors that get made and lessons learn,” said Haushalter.

While Carlisle continues to push for her firing, Director Haushalter says her role as health director is in the hands of the mayor, who is the only person who can fire her.

“As far as whether leadership is a distraction or an addition, this is a conversation with myself as well as the mayor,” she said.

Councilman Carlisle said he hopes his resolution will trigger widespread support for Haushalter’s removal.