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"This is quite a feat" | Shelby County health experts deal with constant changes as they prepare for vaccine distribution

Meanwhile, health inspectors will also be joined by law enforcement in coming days after racial, violent threats reported.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — "This is quite a feat, this takes a lot of coordination and logistics," Shelby County Health Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter said.

As the Shelby County Health Department waits for the first doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, they're also fine tuning plans of where those doses will go - and how many.

"Health care systems will deliver to their own employees, the health department will administer to first responders in partnership with municipalities, and then over time pharmacies will also receive vaccines," Dr. Haushalter said.

After health care workers, first responders, and those in the assisted living facilities are prioritized next with local doses, it's expected for most of the public to possibly get a vaccine in the spring.

That phase requires an ongoing, complex educational effort on the vaccine's benefits - and separating fact from fiction.

"Our goal is to get information out that's accurate and timely to the public, so that people can make informed decisions for themselves," Dr. Haushalter said.

As vaccine planning intensifies, so does the local enforcement by Shelby County health inspectors.

"We are out not to just shut down businesses - we are out to protect the public's health," Shelby County Health Officer Dr. Bruce Randolph said.

This past weekend, inspectors temporarily shut down nine businesses that violated the current health directive.

Dr. Randolph said Thursday teams will check out more than 70 complaints in the coming days, with law enforcement by their side as a precaution.

"Our staff has received threats and even racial slurs, both of which are not tolerated and will not be tolerated," Dr. Randolph said.

While local COVID hospitalizations fell some since the record high last week, medical experts expect the next month to be especially problematic as the impact from the holidays plays out.

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