Shelby County teachers, 65 and older become eligible for COVID-19 vaccines

Updated: Feb. 19, 2021 at 4:37 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - After months of waiting, teachers will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine starting next week. Shelby County is moving into phase 1b of the vaccine distribution plan, which includes other child care staff members and those older than 65.

“That’s literally thousands and thousands of people so it will take us several weeks to get through all the individuals in that category who want to have vaccines,” Shelby County Health Department Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter said.

However, this week some staff at Shelby County Schools were able to be vaccinated with leftover doses as public vaccination sites shut down for the week.

Ahead of the inclement weather, the Shelby County Health Department was able to give more than 2,000 doses to local school districts, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office for inmates at 201 Poplar and Department of Corrections and EMA officials.

Not all the leftover doses from canceled appointments could be saved though.

“Unfortunately we had approximately 1,315 that did expire and those were discarded or what we call wasted,” Haushalter said.

Haushalter said once doses are thawed they have to be used within five days. After appointments were canceled last Thursday because of the ice storm, the next day the department found out a batch expired.

“It’s not that I didn’t know the expiration date,” Haushalter said. “The vaccine is kept in the pharmacy. We were not given notice internally there was vaccine ready to expire.”

On the bright side, health officials said the weather forcing us into our homes may have been good for the status of the local pandemic with just over 40 COVID-19 cases being reported between Thursday and Friday.

“We do have to caution that that may in part be due to lower number of people getting out to be tested and diagnosed this week,” SCHD Deputy Director David Sweat said.

Public vaccinations in Shelby County have been at a standstill all week. As the snow thaws, so do the next doses of the vaccine ready to be put into arms starting Saturday.

Thousands of COVID-19 vaccination appointments are in the process of being rescheduled after weather canceled shots for nearly a week straight. Saturday is a make-up day for those with appointments at the Whitehaven site Thursday, Feb. 11 and Friday, Feb. 12.

Sunday is the make-up day for those with Whitehaven appointments Tuesday, Feb. 16, Thursday, Feb. 18 and Friday, Feb. 19. Those who had Whitehaven appointments Feb. 17 are being rescheduled for Feb. 24.

All other appointments are being rescheduled and you will be notified.

“We’ll work with all of our partners to reschedule all those who were not able to get their vaccines last week,” Haushalter said. “We will also add some additional days to the rest of the sites and additional hours.”

The Shelby County Health Department said appointments canceled this week at the Germantown Baptist, Pipkin Building and Appling sites will be rescheduled on the same day of the week and at the same time next week.

Shipping giants like FedEx and UPS have reported vaccine shipping delays because of this week’s weather across the region. The Tennessee Department of Health said it has not received this week’s allotment.

The Shelby County Health Department said it received two shipments this week, accounting for some of last week’s allotment. That mixed with the doses unused this week puts the department in a position to administer a lot of shots next week.

“So we don’t see it impacting the ability to give vaccine next week at all. We’ll also likely get extra doses in the following week,” Haushalter said.

For more on vaccines in Shelby County, visit

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