Shelby County hits grim milestone after over 1,000 people die from COVID-19

WATCH: Nationwide shortage of COVID vaccines slows distribution process in Shelby County

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A nationwide shortage of COVID vaccines has slowed down the distribution process as Shelby County hits a grim milestone.

According to the Shelby County Health Department, 1,003 people have died because of COVID-19.

On Wednesday, the Shelby County Health Department announced its two drive-thru sites are closed and no appointments are available, despite a record 661 people in the hospital with the virus.

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This week, the health department is using what’s left of the county’s first shipment of vaccine to vaccinate people living in nursing and other group homes.

“We are working with the Tennessee Department of Health to determine when the next shipment of vaccine will arrive and how many doses will be sent to us,” deputy health director David Sweat said. “Hopefully we will get some information from the state about that today or tomorrow.”

The health department said about 25,000 doses have been administered in Shelby County.

That’s less than three percent of the county’s population, and most who have gotten the shot still need a second dose.

“It is going to take several months, maybe even a year, to get the entire population vaccinated that wants to be,” Sweat said.

Sweat said he’s hopeful the process will speed up.

“Vaccine manufactures are working on their version of vaccine and trying to get the FDA approved so they can be used,” he said.

Sweat said Tennessee is vaccinating at one of the best rates compared to other states.

“When we look at the states and how efficiently states are getting the vaccine into their people, we see that Tennessee actually ranks in the top three in the nation,” Sweat said. “It’s not much consolidation, but apparently we are doing better than 47 other states.”

The state of Tennessee has launched an online tool to help you figure out when you are eligible for the vaccine. For more information, click here.