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Why it could take a year before you get the COVID-19 vaccine in Shelby County

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris said just 90,000 vaccines a week will be delivered to the entire state of Tennessee.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — You could be waiting longer than you'd like to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris said vaccines supplies will be scarce for the foreseeable future.

Harris said just 90,000 vaccines a week will be delivered to the state of Tennessee, to be shared among all 95 counties. He said at the rate Tennessee is getting COVID-19 vaccine, it will take up to a year for Shelby County to achieve vaccination levels to reach herd immunity.

"We do need to realize this tunnel is long and there will likely be twists along the way, and it will require all of us to make adjustments," said Harris.

Mayor Harris said when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines, we are at the mercy of the supply chain. Until vaccine manufacturers up productions, vaccines will be trickling in.

"It's our current reality and we could always wish for things to be different," said Shelby County Health Director Alisa Haushalter.

Haushalter said so far, the county has received 12,000 doses of vaccine. 9,500 were given out the first seven days to first responders, healthcare workers, and a small number of people over 75 and funeral workers. The rest are going to those in congregate settings.

The problem now is the health department doesn't have information when additional doses are coming and how many there will be.

"We have said to the state that we would like some predictability, in that we would be able to accept a minimum of 7,000 doses per week if it could be made available to us, so we could plan accordingly," said Haushalter. "It's very difficult to plan when I don't know when there is going to be vaccine available to the health department, the hospitals, and so on."

Haushalter said in the future, the Pipkin building at the fairgrounds will be used to administer vaccines, along with pop up sites around the county.

"We have a long way to go before we have vaccinated a significant number of people in Shelby County, so it's really important we continue the course," said Haushalter.

The hope is as more vaccines come online; this process will speed up. To keep you better informed, the health department now plans on giving vaccine information in their daily updates.

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