MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Starting Tuesday, widespread COVID-19 vaccinations in Shelby County will pick up again, after a temporary stop due to dose supplies running out last week.
Through the rest of January, Shelby County health experts expect around 9,000 weekly doses to go in the arms of first priority groups.
While appointment demand for those doses are booked for weeks, health experts are also concerned about another urgent pandemic threat arriving locally.
"We've got to get as many people vaccinated as we can, because it's the ultimate way out of this mess," Baptist Memorial Hospital infectious disease expert Dr. Steve Threlkeld siad.
Starting Tuesday, new hope and more vaccination help is on the way in Shelby County. That's when - at the Pipkin Building in Midtown Memphis and by appointment only - hundreds of people daily will roll up their sleeves.
8,900 doses a week expected through the end of January for Shelby County, with 4,000 doses for the Shelby County Health Department and 4,900 doses for hospital systems planned this week.
Appointments for eligible groups are filled through month of January.
The current eligible vaccine groups include frontline health workers and first responders, home health care workers, assisted living center residents and staff, those 75 and older, and morticians.
"Even though it's not as good as we'd like, we've done better than the rest of the country, which just tells you how hard this is," Dr. Jeff Warren with the Shelby County COVID-19 Joint Task Force.
While Dr. Warren celebrates more local vaccines this week, he's also concerned about the likelihood soon the area will confirm the first cases of a new and even more contagious COVID-19 strain, already reported in other U.S. states.
"The health department is probably going to have the SWAT team that's going to go after that variant, once we've identified it, because if we can keep it at bay for the next 2-3 months while people are being vaccinated, then we won't have some huge massive rush of the hospitals that would come with something that's 40 to 80% more infectious," Dr. Warren said.
Shelby County Health Leaders will soon announce when those eligible can make a COVID-19 appointment for the month of February.
If you are eligible and interested in an appointment when more are available, you can do so at: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/JanCOVID19Signup.
Those without internet access can call (901) 222-SHOT (7468).
For more information on the current eligible groups: http://www.shelby.community.