People without appointments contributing to long wait at COVID-19 vaccine site, health dept. director says

Dr. Alisa Haushalter apologizes for issues with vaccine appointments
Updated: Jan. 27, 2021 at 6:17 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - For the second day straight lines at the Pipkin Building vaccination site started early and continued throughout the day.

“If this is the best that can be done I’m ashamed of where I live,” said Jimmie Jones.

Everyone we spoke to on Wednesday all had appointments and were still waiting hours after their scheduled time.

Tuesday when some people complained about waiting five hours after their scheduled time, the Shelby County Health Department said the reason was because more people showed up for vaccinations than expected.

According to the department’s online vaccine scheduling tool, 873 appointments were made for Wednesday.

“It’s a great concern to have individuals who have to wait long periods of time,” said Dr. Manoj Jain, Infectious Disease Specialist. “We’re working to make those processes more efficient. We recognize in the initial stages there are glitches we need to work through.”

Later Wednesday evening, the director of the Shelby County Health Department apologized for issues at the COVID-19 vaccination site.

Some Shelby County residents were turned away from the Pipkin Building site Tuesday after waiting in a line of cars for hours despite having appointments.

Some people with appointments were told the site ran out of vaccines, but SCHD director Dr. Alisa Haushalter says that wasn’t the case.

Speaking at the vaccination site Wednesday evening, Haushalter said they increased the number of appointments Tuesday and inadvertently exceeded their staffing capacity.

SCHD answers questions about long lines, issues with vaccine appointments

Shelby County Health Dept. director answers questions about long lines, issues with vaccine appointments

Posted by WMC Action News 5 on Wednesday, January 27, 2021

“There were some individuals that did not have appointments,” said Haushalter. “That is very common. People want the vaccine, they get in the line. But also we had increased the number of appointments, because it was moving very smoothly all the other days. Turnaround time was about 45 minutes so there was an increase in appointments but that was too much of an increase and added additional burden to the system from there.”

She said Wednesday’s distribution went smoother though the line wound its way through multiple parking lots before spilling out onto nearby streets by early afternoon. She said they increased staffing for the site and would look into what caused long lines again Wednesday.

Drivers started lining up at the Pipkin Building around 6:30 a.m., two hours before vaccinations began to be administered. Health leaders expected to administer about 873 vaccines Wednesday at the Pipkin Building.

Haushalter said a common issue is people showing up without appointments, which makes the line even longer. But she said they aren’t turning people away who can’t prove they don’t have an appointment.

Haushalter also said because the vaccine is a federal asset, they won’t turn people away who don’t live in Shelby County.

Related | Shelby County Health Dept. opens vaccine standby list

Second doses of COVID-19 vaccine in Shelby Co.
Second doses of COVID-19 vaccine in Shelby Co.(Source: SCHD)

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