Shelby County working to meet COVID-19 vaccination goal

Updated: May. 25, 2021 at 6:22 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County is getting closer to its vaccine goal one shot at a time.

With more than 351,000 people vaccinated, health leaders said every shot is a success.

It’s more than half way to herd immunity, which would mean having about 700,000 people in Shelby County vaccinated. Health leaders said those who have already gotten vaccinated helped us get back to life more as we know it.

When the City of Memphis took over vaccine distribution in Shelby County, the original goal was to get 700,000 shots in arms by August 1. As we hit the halfway mark with about three months to go, it may take a little longer to reach the numerical goal.

“We’re averaging a little over 2,000 people a day getting vaccinated in the community,” said Shelby County Health Department deputy director, David Sweat. “That’s a slow down from where we were a few weeks ago.”

Sweat sees herd immunity as more than a number. He said with 351,000 people vaccinated, we’re seeing average daily case totals falling to below 100 cases a day, and the reproduction rate is under one at .85.

“The goal is about getting our population safe to the point where the virus is having trouble transmitting and can’t sustain itself,” Sweat said. “We will not stop working until we get to that point.”

Every vaccine administered is considered a win. Government and health leaders continue to reach out to potentially vulnerable people. More than 3,000 people who are homeless or homebound have been vaccinated.

Several pop-up vaccination sites went on over the weekend.

“We had one this last Sunday, trying to get vaccines to the Latinx population,” Sweat said. “We had 382 people come out and get vaccinated Sunday afternoon.”

Shelby County is not alone in its daily push to get more vaccine into arms. Only 32 percent of the state is fully vaccinated. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows Mid-South states ranked last or near last in a list of most vaccinated populations

Mayor Lee Harris called on the state to step up its vaccination campaign.

“We have lagged behind other states,” Harris said. “There is not doubt that requires a more expansive and aggressive response which includes incentives.”

According to the CDC data, Tennessee ranked 46 on the list of more vaccinated states populations. Arkansas is 49th and Mississippi is last.

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