Counties will schedule vaccines, starting next week

By , Daily Memphian Updated: January 08, 2021 6:34 PM CT | Published: January 08, 2021 11:27 AM CT

Counties across state will open portals for vaccine appointments next week to bring more order and certainty to the large task of vaccinating people statewide. 

All vaccines administered by county health departments will be scheduled through the online sites, eliminating the rush to get in line or threat of being turned away as hundreds were last week in Shelby County.

Public rushes to get vaccine reserved for first responders

The state has also created an online tool to help people know when they will be eligible to receive the vaccine.

The state was allocated 64,275 doses of vaccines this week, according to Bill Christian, spokesman for Tennessee Department of Health, which is below the 90,000 weekly doses the state had been slated to receive.

“They are distributed to approved sites, primarily county health departments and hospitals, as described in the published plan,” he said in an email early Friday, Jan. 8.

The Shelby County Health Department announced late Friday that it will receive an allotment of 8,900 doses per week through the end of January.

Health Department has vaccine, will start Tuesday at Pipkin

It will resume administering vaccine to people in the 1a1 priority group and those age 75 and older on Tuesday, Jan. 12, at the Pipkin Building at the Fairgrounds, 940 Early Maxwell Blvd.

The Health Department will have about 4,000 doses to administer, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays, at Pipkin. The remainder will go to local hospitals.

Appointments in Shelby County may be made on the online appointment app signupgenius. People without internet access can call 901-222-SHOT to schedule an appointment beginning at 8 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 11.


Drive-thru vaccine sites closed for now

The Shelby Health Department began giving vaccine to first responders and other people in the 1a1 category on Monday, Dec. 28.

By Tuesday, Dec. 29, the two invitation-only drive-thru tents were deluged with people waiting in line. While hundreds were turned away that day, the confusion continued all week.

Last Saturday, Jan. 2, Marilyn Donnelly and her husband, John, drove from their home in Bartlett to the site at Lindenwood Christian Church in Midtown after they thought they had successfully registered on Eventbrite.

“We were waiting with God knows how many other people,” Marilyn Donnelly said. “Someone came by and said only people with reservations were allowed. We stayed in line because we felt we had a reservation.”

They did not get confirmation emails, which means that when they finally got to the tent, they didn’t have the necessary paperwork.

“We had our driver’s licenses and could prove we were of an advanced age,” she said.

They were told to pull over to a side parking lot and wait to see if there were any doses left when the clinic closed.

The couple did get their shots, but it was not until 7 p.m., hours after they had left home.

“We were the last two people,” Marilyn Donnelly said.

She says online registration will be great, “if it works.”

County systems helping

Franklin County began an appointment-based system this week, as did Rutherford County and other jurisdictions.

“Overall, this seems to be working more efficiently and giving the clients a better experience during the process,” the Franklin County EMA wrote on Facebook. “We encourage everyone to be patient.

“We understand the difficulties (you’re) having in trying to arrange an appointment, but rest assured the state and local health department officials are working to improve the process every day,” the statement continued.

The system in Franklin County has not eliminated all confusion, though. Residents commented to ask if they would have to schedule appointments if they had already received their first shot.

“If you already have your card to come back for the 2nd shot ... do you still have to make an appointment?” one resident asked. “We have the date of 27th to get the 2nd one ... no specific time.”

The Franklin EMA responded it was not sure how the health department was planning to do the second round yet, but would post the information when it knows.

Meanwhile, the virus continues to spread rapidly across the state, as people continue to gather without wearing masks or following other social distancing guidelines.

The Tennessee Department of Health reported 9,000 new cases Friday and 111 more deaths, bringing the death toll to 7,492 in Tennessee from COVID-19. Deaths in Shelby County passed 1,000 on Friday to 1,003. 

The state positivity rate stands at 19.87%, according to TDH. The World Health Organization recommends a sustained positivity rate of 5% or lower to open businesses and allow gatherings to prevent sickness and death.


vaccine online registration portal Marilyn Donnelly
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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