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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

Shelby County plans more vaccine sites & will tweak Pipkin Building process

Changes are coming to crack down harder on those trying to jump in line without appointment.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Lines or cars again snaked around Tiger Lane Thursday, following an eventful Tuesday when Shelby County Health Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter said hundreds were turned away because people without an appointment jumped in line and slots were overbooked.

"The first thing we did was correct the issue with overbooked appointments because that's really what led to the big backlog the other day," Dr. Haushalter said.

Wednesday went much smoother, with 1400 doses provided. 

Still, Dr. Haushalter said Thursday changes are underway to improve the Pipkin Building vaccine process.

Staff will use Monday for rescheduled appointments, add more signs explaining estimated wait time and appointment required, and check appointment proof early.

"We've been saying clearly and assuring those who are checking in on the line that people have to have an appointment to be able to access services at the Pipkin Building," Dr. Haushalter said.

Also starting next week, first doses of the two-dose COVID-19 vaccine will be provided in Whitehaven at the Southwest Tennessee Community College location.

"It's a beautiful thing that those community colleges are located within the communities, communities of need, so that will also improve access," Dr. Judy Martin with the Shelby County Health Department said.

The Whitehaven site is opening largely in part because the health department expects 3,000 additional weekly doses in February from the state. Current data shows Shelby County with more than 50,000 doses on hand but not yet administered in arms.

Dr. Haushalter said there's reasons behind that.

"None of us have either unused or un-promised vaccine, that means whatever we have in our pharmacies now is actually being administered at the moment or is committed to a second dose," Dr. Haushalter said.

As of Thursday, health leaders reported more than 12,000 people in Shelby County are fully vaccinated. That's around just 2% of the goal of 650,000 people in Shelby County to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.

Long story short: there's a long way to go. 

Early Treatment for COVID-19 An effective early treatment is available for persons who test positive and have the following risk factors: Anyone over age 12 with obesity, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, or whose immunity is compromised by disease or prescription treatments.