Shelby County Health Director resigns amid vaccine distribution scandal

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County Health Director Alisa Haushalter resigned Friday amid a growing number of problems with COVID-19 vaccine distribution in the county.

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris announced Haushalter’s resignation during a special called meeting of the Shelby County Commission.

Harris said Haushalter is still a Shelby County employee at this time. He explained there is a wind-down period before her resignation takes effect. She was not present at the meeting virtually or in-person.

Harris said the county is conducting an internal investigation.

He called any waste of the vaccine “gut-wrenching” and “unacceptable” and said action is being taken to correct what happened.

On moving forward, Harris said, “Nothing about this is going to be easy, nothing about this is going to be quick.”

The Tennessee Department of Health is investigating after thousands of vaccines were thrown out, and the number was reportedly misrepresented by SCHD officials.

RELATED: VACCINES STOLEN: Volunteer accused of stealing COVID-19 vaccines from Memphis site, state health department says

Furthermore, the state says SCHD sat on over 50,000 doses of the vaccine, reportedly holding them for teachers, a serious violation of state guidelines.

Friday, TDH released documents associated with the ongoing investigation into COVID-19 vaccine waste in Shelby County.

A COVID-19 vaccine volunteer is suspected of stealing multiple COVID-19 vaccine doses at the Pipkin Building site on Feb. 3. TDH officials also stated that on Feb. 3, two children were vaccinated at the Appling site. Those vaccinations were not reported to state or federal authorities.

RELATED: Memphis councilmember calls for health director’s resignation

Thursday, Memphis City council member Chase Carlisle called for Haushalter’s resignation as well as the resignations of senior leadership.

Shelby County Commissioner Van Turner said any calls to fire the health director are political and he questioned why a city councilman was overstepping his authority, since the county mayor controls who gets fired.

RELATED: CDC heads to Shelby County amid vaccine distribution scandal

The CDC has been in touch with county and state public health officials and is sending a staff member to provide ground assistance with vaccine distribution, according to a statement from the CDC.

Wednesday, Mayor Lee Harris admitted the county health department made a mistake but said he would like even more help from Gov. Bill Lee.

“I think he’s not doing an active job of managing this pandemic,” Harris said. “I think he’s focused on issues that are beside the point.”

“Obviously, the wasted doses are a huge issue, but a lot of what they said felt like maybe not distortions but theater,” Harris went on to say.

RELATED: COVID-19 vaccine waste investigation continues in Shelby County

Friday, Gov. Bill Lee visited the vaccine distribution location at the Pipkin Building.

“At the very least, I can say that there has been a real lack of leadership there,” the governor said.

RELATED: Here’s what you should know about vaccine distribution in Shelby County

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