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Vaccination clinics starting to see uptick in numbers, Shelby County falls short of herd immunity

Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 4:32 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County is averaging more than 1,300 vaccines administered a day. It’s a number that has fluctuated only by a few hundred up and down over the last month as COVID-19 cases surge, but area clinics are starting to see more people choose the vaccine.

Baptist Medical Group is even reporting a 100 percent increase in the number of people seeking vaccinations at its clinics and doctors’ offices.

Vaccine demands had fallen in recent months since everyone 12 and up became eligible, but some vaccine administrators are anticipating demand to continue to grow as the delta strain of COVID-19 rapidly increases infections.

The Pipkin Building will remain open for one month longer to meet anticipated demand.

Those choosing to get their shots say they’re relieved to have the protection.

“It was like it’s time. I need to do it,” 19-year-old Annalise Haley said about getting her first COVID-19 vaccine.

Haley got her first COVID-19 vaccine at the Baptist clinic in Collierville Friday days before returning to school.

“I didn’t get a normal experience at school last year. I want one this year,” Haley said.

The decision didn’t come without some hesitation, mainly fueled by social media, she said.

“I was like I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Haley said. “But ultimately I think in the back of my head I knew I was going to do it. Do it for myself and others.”

“What they’re calling this period we’re in is people are hesitant for whatever reason,” Christ Community Health Services Director of Nursing Gwen Reese said.

Reese said their vaccination clinic is seeing a slight uptick since the start of July, vaccinating about 115 to 150 people a week. At the peak of the services, when Christ Community was administering at Greater Imani Church, more than 1,200 people a day would come through.

“[People are choosing vaccine now] either because their job is requiring them to have it or they know someone who has recently tested positive,” Reese said.

“We lost a family member to [COVID-19] so I decided yes it’s time,” Angelina Hines said.

Hines also got her first shot Friday as a way to protect herself and those she works with. She is the founder of Ella Bebe Angels a support system for survivors of domestic violence.

“We come into contact with a lot of people as well as children,” Hine said. “We want to make sure they are safe.”

Medical professionals continue to urge the vaccine as your best protection against the virus and severe hospitalization and death.

Shelby County will fall short of its August 1 goal of 750,000 people vaccinated for herd immunity. On Friday the county was 59 percent of the way to the goal with more than 412,000 people at least partially vaccinated.

“Educate yourself but we truly have the data to support that the benefits are far greater than the risks,” Robin Wachsman, Director of Nursing with Baptist Medical Group said.

Both Christ Community and BMG have seen testing numbers increase too. BMG is reporting COVID-19 tests administered have tripled from only a few weeks ago. Christ Community’s testing site at the old emissions testing site on Lamar has nearly quadrupled this week compared to early July, with a test positivity rate of 22 percent.

Whether they’re looking for a sense of normalcy or peace of mind many who choose the vaccine leave with the same feeling.

“It wasn’t as bad as I thought,” Haley said.

“I absolutely feel relieved,” Hine said.

Shelby County is also rolling out a concierge-style vaccination program. Memphis and Shelby County street teams are often knocking on doors passing out information about the vaccine. Starting next week, if those they speak to show interest in the vaccine, they’ll be able to arrange a vaccine administrator to come to their door with the shot.

Click here to find a vaccination location near you.

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