SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — Shelby County health officials spoke Thursday about COVID-19 and vaccinations within the community.
Gina Sweat, Chief of the Memphis Fire Department, said officials are working on a process for more pop-up vaccinations sites.
Officials have been identifying more personnel so help with the vaccine process.
A new appointment management system should be available by mid-March. It will be a more robust system and will be more user-friendly, Sweat said.
CDC and Tennessee state officials came to Memphis this week to visit vaccine sites following a recent scandal surrounding vaccine distribution.
Shelby County will not receive the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine for at least two weeks, Sweat said.
4,868 people were vaccinated yesterday. 4,440 shots are scheduled for today.
Dr. David Sweat, Chief of Epidemiology for SCHD, said over 159,00 vaccine doses have been administered in the county.
Over 111,000 of those were first doses.
Over 47,000 people are now fully vaccinated (both doses) in Shelby County.
SCHD received reports of 11 new COVID-19-related deaths since yesterday, Sweat said.
Sweat said Spring Break is coming up, something that could “re-energize” the virus.
Health leaders are warning you to stay the course. The reason for officials’ concerns is more variants are popping up in the Mid-South.
Ashley Dentley has no desire to get vaccinated anytime soon, but she’s happy the option is there for more people across the county.
“I think it should be a choice. People should not be forced, but it should be an option for them,” said Dentley.
An option that’s important as ever. Even as cases drop, the number of variants of the coronavirus grows.
Thursday the health department shared they have seen an increase in the UK and Brazil variants. The University of Tennesse Health Science Center discovered a Mexico variant as well.
“We’re watching for these things so we can respond aggressively if we find them, but right now I would not say yet that those cases are the dominant strain,” said David Sweat, SCHD Chief of Epidemiology.
Wednesday, the Shelby County Health Department announced the county will move to phase 1c of vaccinations Monday. That means anyone 16 and older with underlying health issues, like diabetes, asthma, or obesity can get vaccinated.
“As we receive additional vaccine from the state, we will be ramping up the pod, scheduling, and number of appointments to be able to deliver all vaccines from the state,” said Memphis Fire Director Gina Sweat.
We’re told nearly 50% of people 75 and older have been vaccinated in the county. More than a third of people between 65 and 74 have been vaccinated, as well.
Testing is still widely available in the community.
On Saturday, SCHD will be hosting a free testing event targeting the Latinx community. It will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Church of Ascension gym, 3680 Ramill Rd.
Wait times yesterday were, on average, 12 minutes, Sweat said.
You do not have to have symptoms to be tested. Testing is available to anyone 5 years old and up.
Call 901-222-MASK for more on testing or to register.
Appointments for next week should open up online and by phone Friday.
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