Missed shots slated for same days next week

By , Daily Memphian Updated: February 18, 2021 8:54 AM CT | Published: February 18, 2021 4:00 AM CT
<strong>Shelby County Health Department personnel and volunteers administer COVID-19 vaccinations on Jan. 12, in the Pipkin Building at Tiger Lane. Thousands of appointments for vaccinations have been rescheduled in Memphis and Shelby County due to the severe winter weather slamming the area.</strong> (Mark Weber/Daily Memphian)

Shelby County Health Department personnel and volunteers administer COVID-19 vaccinations on Jan. 12, in the Pipkin Building at Tiger Lane. Thousands of appointments for vaccinations have been rescheduled in Memphis and Shelby County due to the severe winter weather slamming the area. (Mark Weber/Daily Memphian)

With potentially seven days lost in the vaccine schedule, Memphis and Shelby County now have thousands of appointments to reschedule.

If that is not daunting enough, the messages will be going to people who have heard about or lived through dropped appointments and communication miscues; they are already anxious.

Late Wednesday, Feb. 17, the Shelby County Health Department said shots scheduled this week will automatically be rescheduled to the same time, day and location next week. 

There will be no new appointments at the existing Health Department sites next week. All will be make-up appointments.


City will now manage Pipkin; other changes being implemented

Dr. Rebecca Wurtz, associate professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, said rescheduling is going to be a factor across the nation after the winter storms.

“The bottom line is, it’s OK. Just take a breath. On top of all the anxieties we’ve had, this will work out,” she said.

Ideally, Wurtz said, counties and states will find the resources, including the manpower, to expand site hours so that people do not have to miss scheduled first doses or make-up dates for second doses.

“In essence, you will have to double hours of scheduled vaccine clinics to get scheduled first doses and missed second doses,” Wurtz said.

Midtown resident Sidney Hickey waited hours at the Pipkin Building last weekend before being told the site had run out of Moderna vaccine.

“They should prioritize those of us who had appointments on Saturday, went there at our scheduled time and were turned away 3.5 hours later,” she said. “What a mess.

“I know teachers need their vaccines, but those of us who have had our first dose need to get our second dose in a timely manner.”

SCS Superintendent Joris Ray receives vaccine alongside teachers

The Tennessee Department of Health says people statewide scheduled to get a vaccine this week will be contacted about a reschedule date, according to spokesman Bill Christian.

“They will not have to start the process over, but might have an interruption in a currently scheduled vaccine appointment,” he said in an email.

Except for a handful of counties along the Gulf Coast, Mississippi Department of Health sites have been closed every day so far this week. The department is rescheduling appointments for the same time on different days, a spokeswoman said.

People will receive calls, texts, or emails notifying them of the new appointment, she said.

In Shelby County, sites were closed Thursday and Friday of last week and are scheduled to be closed five days this week, through Saturday. The sites typically do not operate on Sunday or Monday, although Pipkin opened last Sunday in order to administer doses that were close to expiring.

Vaccine site hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the five local centers. Doubling them would mean 18-hour operations.

Liz Dayton, senior administrator at Meritan, a home health nursing firm, organized volunteers for several weeks at the Pipkin site and says the Memphis medical community will turn out to help if they are asked.

Dayton suspects even if that means opening clinics at 5 a.m. or 7 a.m. and running later in the evening.

“I believe if those that are in charge made that call and said, ‘Hey, we need every doctor, nurse, every person licensed to give an injection to help us meet these times’ – and give the times – if they put that call out, I truly believe Memphis can do it,” she said.

If it were up to her, Dayton says, she’d run full-appointment schedules on Sunday, Feb. 21, and Monday, Feb. 22, and work before and after regular hours to get all or most of the missed shots done next week.

“I’m not in charge; I have no say in it, but I’d look at how many staff and volunteers we need to make the extended hours happen and work from there,” she said.

“We may discover, ‘Hey, we could pull off a lot more vaccines in a day than we’ve been doing and we need to keep this up,’ ” Dayton said.

The limiting factor has been supply of vaccine, says infectious disease expert Dr. Manoj Jain, not capacity to inject.

“If the supply continues, we can catch up because we have a lot of capacity to deliver the vaccine,” Jain said. “We need to catch up next week.”

Right now, the important thing is safety, Wurtz said, “which means not having people drive on ice and snow in the cold. The next priority is getting the shots in. It’s not as if there is not enough vaccine. People just need to find the time, vaccinators and space to make up for this lost week.”

The Tennessee Health Department Wednesday said it expects the winter weather will delay delivery of vaccines. 

Vaccines are now being administered in four mass sites, Pipkin, Germantown Baptist Church, Appling City Cove and Southwest Tennessee Community College’s Whitehaven center. They also are being delivered two days a week at the commodities warehouse on South Belvedere.

Next week, a fifth mass center is scheduled to open at Greater Imani Cathedral of Faith, 3824 Austin Peay Highway in Raleigh.


Dr. Rebecca Wurtz Liz Dayton Dr. Manoj Jain Tiffany Wright Doug McGowen Sidney Hickey Tennessee Department of Health
Jane Roberts

Jane Roberts

Longtime journalist Jane Roberts is a Minnesotan by birth and a Memphian by choice. She's lived and reported in the city more than two decades. She covers business news and features for The Daily Memphian.


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