Coming Friday in Shelby County: Vaccines for All Adults
Update, March 22, 5:40 - The City of Memphis announced that begining Friday, anyone 16 and older in Shelby County can sign up for a COVID-19 shot. Until then, officials have broadened current eligibility to include those 45 and older and individuals in the state's third and final priority group.
The Tennessee Health Department is allowing counties to set their own timelines for opening their vaccination appointments to the general public—at least for the next two weeks. By April 5, the expectation is that any adult in Tennessee will be eligible.
The announcement comes as the federal government ramps up first doses coming to Tennessee by 30 percent starting next week. The increased supply has shifted the focus to a slumping demand, which varies across Tennessee.
Some western rural counties are filling less than 20 percent of their vaccine appointments, compared to about 80 percent in central parts of the state.
“While we are having lower uptake levels, that means we have an excess supply,” Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said on Monday. “The last thing I want is any vaccine sitting out on a shelf, so we want to get that out to the people who want it.”
Shelby County officials are still scrambling to fill thousands of open slots for shots this week. To help, they’re immediately widening eligibility to anyone 45 years and older and individuals in the state’s final priority phase, including grocery store workers. Anyone 16 and older can join them this Friday when next week’s appointments are released.
About 25 percent of the county’s roughly 712,000 adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Some counties will merge the final priority groups into the same timeline as the general public. But Piercey says allotments will be set aside for these populations such as inmates at correctional facilities.
"I suspect that within the next 24-48 hours, you're going to see a substantive number of counties go to all adults," she said.
To schedule a vaccination appointment click here or call 901-222-7468.