Shelby County Health Dept. opens vaccine standby list

Updated: Jan. 26, 2021 at 5:40 PM CST
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SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County is expecting thousands more vaccines in the coming weeks. More appointments are opening, but a new feature also lets you get on a standby list for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Tuesday the Shelby County Health Department rolled out Vaxqueue. When you click on the link you can enter your information and get on a list to receive word of any last-minute unused vaccine.

“A standby list like this is pretty similar to a standby list for plane travel,” said Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris. “This list will likely involve some waiting, and because of limited supply there are no guarantees.”

It’s not first come first serve. The Shelby County Health Department said it will prioritize those who are eligible for the vaccine.

Over the weekend a notification went out from the Shelby County Health Department saying vaccines were available without an appointment causing long lines and some confusion as not everyone received a vaccine.

The Shelby County Health Department said the message was sent after several no-show appointments on Saturday.

“What will happen in Shelby County is if we don’t administer the vaccine at a certain level we won’t continue to receive the level of vaccine,” said Shelby County Health Department’s head of vaccine distribution Dr. Judy Martin.

“I was very upset,” said Shelby County resident Leo Ramer.

Ramer, 93, sat in that line Saturday even though he had an appointment for that afternoon. He never made it to the front of the line for his appointment. Martin said he shouldn’t have had to wait.

“I was not happy that things went the way they did because it was an extremely long line,” said Martin. “But I was really pleased to find at the end of the evening when was did the count the number of doses administered to individuals to those without appointments were 500.”

For family, it meant one day longer to wait to spend time together.

“I think it’s kind of an emotional issue for us because we’d like him to feel a little safer around us,” said Ramer’s daughter Karen Stefan.

The health department said when they heard of people missing their appointments because of the long lines they were offered a new one. Ramer was able to get vaccinated Tuesday.

But he waited in another long line at the Pipkin Building. On Monday the Shelby County Health Department opened up more appointments to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We’re looking to scale it up. We’re looking to expand our vaccine efforts,” said Martin.

It was an unexpected announcement from the Shelby County Health Department Monday night as more vaccination appointments were opened up for the rest of the month when for weeks they had all been filled.

Shelby County Health Department Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter said expect more vaccines into the county in the coming weeks.

“We’re anticipating an additional 3,000 doses being available next week,” said Haushalter.

That’s nearly 12,000 vaccines allotted for next week, and Haushalter said it could continue into February. She said the Tennessee Department of Health is also working with big box stores to administer doses directly from the CDC.

“Which will add several thousand doses,” said Haushalter.

While the Pipkin Building remains the hub of public health vaccine administration, the health department is continuing to look at new sites. It expects a Whitehaven site to open next week.

On Tuesday vaccines were administered at the department’s commodity center for those who qualify for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program which are mainly elderly adults.

Only those 75 and older can get vaccinated in the county, along with residents and staff in long-term care facilities, health care workers, first responders and those in the funeral or mortuary business.

To make an appointment or see if you’re eligible for the vaccine click HERE.

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