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Tennessee Health Commissioner says it's too early to tell if anyone in Shelby County will need to be re-vaccinated

A wider probe launched after the state found nearly 2,500 COVID-19 vaccine doses discarded by the Shelby County Health Department because of temperature mishandling.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — "We are going all the way back to the very beginning, that we don't have any concerns during that entire time frame," Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said.

Dr. Piercey said that's the scope of the state's investigation on how the Shelby County Health Department stored and monitored tens of thousands of COVID-19 vaccine doses, dating back to December.

"We are getting some of that information, and in almost every case where we do have the information, it does appear that they are fine," Dr. Piercey said.

The TDH commissioner said Tuesday afternoon state investigators remain on the ground in Shelby County, methodically going through vaccine temperature records.

"It's going slower that I would have hope it to, but we are finding better information," Dr. Piercey said.

She said it's too early to determine if anyone in Shelby County would need to be re-vaccinated.

"We are not at a point yet where we could say either yay or nay," Dr. Piercey said. "I am very encouraged that what we have found does indicate that temperatures were being measured and being tracked."

Last month, the TDH launched a wider investigation after it found nearly 2,500 doses discarded by the Shelby County Health Department because of temperature mishandling.

The state transferred vaccine distribution control to the city of Memphis.

"They have been doing a great job of allocating and making sure it's stored properly and handled properly, and so thanks again to the city of Memphis for stepping in and filling the gap there," Dr. Piercey said.

Tuesday, city of Memphis Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen said as more vaccine supply is expected into the spring, staff plans to ramp up more pop-up sites in underserved communities countywide to improve access.

"What part of town has the lowest amount of vaccination, and that's where we should prioritize the pop up pod to make sure people can take advantage of the vaccine," McGowen said.

Dr. Piercey is expected to give another update to Shelby County Commissioners on the state investigation Friday.

Next week, the city of Memphis also plans to launch a new software system for vaccine appointments.

COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us getting the illness. Different types of vaccines work in different ways to offer protection, but with all types of vaccines, the body is left with a supply of white cells (our infection fighting cells) that will remember how to fight that virus in the future.

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