Your coronavirus vaccine questions answered

Updated with: What phase is Shelby County vaccinating?

By , Daily Memphian Updated: January 20, 2021 12:06 PM CT | Published: January 04, 2021 1:32 PM CT

You have questions about coronavirus vaccinations? Us, too. 

We’ll try to keep a running list of questions and answers here, from the most basic of inquiries to more in-depth investigations. 

How do I sign up to get a vaccine? — updated

The Health Department announced plans to offer vaccinations on an appointment-only basis at the Pipkin Building at the Mid-South Fairgrounds, beginning Tuesday, Jan. 12. After that, the agency plans to offer vaccines between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The Health Department is currently vaccinating those in phases 1a1 and 1a2 and those age 75 and up.

Shelby County’s updated vaccination schedule

Appointments can be made on online by clicking here.

People without Internet access should call 901-222-SHOT (7468) to set up an appointment.

The agency said that people getting vaccinated should be prepared to show ID and proof of eligibility, including proof of age, a professional license, or a letter from an employer.

How can I get vaccinated if I don’t live in Shelby County? 

The Tennessee Department of Health has launched a portal with links to signup forms and waiting lists for the state’s 89 counties without independent health departments. (It lists phone numbers for the others, including Shelby County.)

That can be found here.

If you live in Mississippi, that state’s Department of Health has a signup form for drive-thru COVID-19 shots. More information on Mississippi vaccinations can be found here

And if you live in Arkansas, here is a list of pharmacies providing vaccines.

When can I get vaccinated? — updated

The Shelby County Health Department is rolling out vaccinations based off of the State of Tennessee’s priority groups. 

The Health Department is vaccinating to those in phases 1a1 and 1a2 (outlined in the link below) and those 75 and up.

To learn which specific phase you fall in, as well as when that phase is expected to receive a vaccine, click here

Shelby County’s updated vaccination schedule

Where can I get vaccinated? — updated

The Health Department plans is using the Pipkin Building at the Mid-South Fairgrounds as an appointment-only vaccination site.

The Health Department plans to add other vaccination sites throughout the county in the future.

From our readers: After receiving my first dose, how do I sign up for my second? — updated

The Health Department will contact those to whom it administered the first dose to inform them when and where they will be able to get the second dose.

If you’ve had the virus should you still get the vaccine? And, if so, should you wait a certain period of time after you’ve recovered to get the first of two vaccine shots? 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people who have already had COVID-19 do get the vaccine, since re-infection is possible. The Tennessee Department of Health says that people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 90 days may choose to delay getting the vaccine because getting it again is unlikely in that period — especially if doing so will allow others at a higher risk to be vaccinated sooner. 

Counties will schedule vaccines, starting next week

What would qualify someone for the pre-existing conditions/high-risk group (otherwise known as group 1c)? 

According to the Tennessee Department of Health, people 16 years and older with the following conditions would be included

  • Current cancer treatments
  • Chronic renal disease
  • COPD/pulmonary fibrosis/Cystic Fibrosis
  • Moderate-severe asthma
  • Obesity (BMI at or over 30)
  • Heart failure/hypertension
  • Sickle cell 
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Immunocompromised
  • Dementia
  • Liver disease

Public rushes to get vaccine reserved for first responders

From our readers: Are mental health workers able to get the vaccine?

Behavioral health providers are included in phase 1a2. Also included are primary care providers and staff, outpatient specialty providers and staff working with acute patients, pharmacists and staff, patient transport, outpatient therapists, urgent visit center providers and staff, environmental services, oral health providers, outpatient laboratory staff working with COVID-19 specimens.

From our readers: Will the University of Memphis independently distribute vaccines to its employees, similar to other universities across the country? 

According to the university, there are no plans at this time to offer the vaccine. 

Another, from a reader: What is the limiting factor on the distribution? Is it not enough vaccines? Not enough people to administer them? Logistical challenges?

Many things are factoring into this, including staffing, but the bottom line is the amount of vaccine doses we have available.

How much vaccine is Shelby County receiving? — updated

On Jan. 8, the Health Department said the initial commitment from the state is for about 8,900 vaccine doses per week through the end of January, with the shipment being divided between the Health Department and area hospital systems. 

The Health Department expects to administer up to 4,000 doses per week from the first shipments, but that number may change.

Walgreens and CVS are also beginning to receive vaccine through a separate federal allocation, which was made to cover people in nursing homes that signed on with those pharmacies.

How does the state determine how much vaccine Shelby County gets?

The vaccine is distributed by county population. Shelby County’s population is 13.7% of the state’s population. The 8,900 shots the county is scheduled to receive per week is 13.8% of the state’s allotment of 64,275.

How many people have been vaccinated in Shelby County? — updated

An excellent question. The Health Department said on Jan. 20 that approximately 33,687 vaccinations have been given: 26,688 (first doses), 6,999 (second doses doses). The Health Department started mass inoculations on Monday, Dec. 28.

State totals are expected to be released each Tuesday and Friday at the Tennessee Health Department’s new dashboard. The Shelby County Health Department is releasing updated local numbers on Wednesdays. 

From our readers: When will the vaccine be distributed to pharmacies? 

When supply picks up, vaccine eventually will be available in drugstores and doctors’ offices. Walgreens and CVS are now beginning to receive vaccine through a separate federal allocation, which was made to cover people in nursing homes that signed on with those pharmacies.

Who can I call for more info? 

The local COVID-19 hotline for questions is 901-222-6275.

We’re currently compiling other questions, and as we find out those answers, we’ll add them here. 


coronavirus COVID-19 vaccines

Comment On This Story

Become a subscriber to join the discussion.
Section Emails

Sign up to get the latest articles from the Metro section.

Manage Your Email Subscriptions