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Shelby County expected to get first COVID-19 vaccine doses next month

More than 33,000 doses are expected to arrive December 15th or so, going to the health department and area health care systems.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — "That is very significant," Dr. Shirin Mazumder with Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare said.

Memphis area doctors are celebrating. After months of research, studies, and trials, the first COVID-19 vaccine doses are expected to arrive in Shelby County next month. 

"There's been unprecedented scientific collaboration in getting these vaccines made," Dr. Mazumder said.

Shelby County Health Officer Dr. Bruce Randolph said Tuesday the state believes by December 15th or so, more than 22,000 doses are expected to go to the Shelby County Health Department and nearly 11,000 to area health care systems.

Additional hospital systems also applied.

"Right now, we don't have a lot to really help us fight this pandemic, so I feel like these vaccines will be a gamechanger in helping us get things under control," Dr. Mazumder said.

Dr. Mazumder and other health experts said the first group of vaccine recipients will be prioritized. 

"Health care workers and first line responders who will receive the vaccine first, followed by those with high risk medical conditions, elderly patients, and those that reside in nursing homes," Dr. Mazumder said,

Dr. Mazumder is encouraged by three COVID-19 vaccines showing effectiveness of at least 70%.

While she expects the general public will likely get a vaccine in the spring, she also offered caution in the months in between.

"These vaccines are really promising, but it will take time to administer and deliver these vaccines to everybody. So it's important that people continue to be safe," Dr. Mazumder said.

So far, the COVID-19 vaccines in initial trials are more effective than the typical annual flu vaccine.

Also promising: side effects such as headaches and fatigue are showing up in only about 5% of participants.

Learn about COVID-19 vaccine planning, how vaccine recommendations will be made, and the work going into ensuring the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.

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