Heads up! Second-dose vaccine notices coming this week

By , Daily Memphian Updated: January 20, 2021 9:11 AM CT | Published: January 19, 2021 5:06 PM CT

By Thursday, Jan. 21, the Shelby County Health Department will announce the vaccine site for nearly 10,000 people who got doses the last week of December or early in January and for weeks have wondered where and when they would get the second shot.

Lately, as national reports have said vaccine supply has been turned loose, they’ve wondered if they would even get a second dose.

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Many now are within a week of queuing up again.

“We are currently in negotiations to pick the best site to be able to administer those vaccines,” Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter said Tuesday, Jan. 19.

The challenge is finding a site big enough to allow the Health Department to deliver more than 9,500 shots in a week.

“I encourage people to continue to go to Shelby.community for information. We will also make announcements, do our daily updates, and they can call (901) 222-SHOT (7468),” Haushalter said.

“I am very confident it is going to work,” said Marty Yanase. “It has to work. Hope is my new word for the new year. 

“We got it Jan. 1 on New Year’s Day,” said Yanase, who registered with 222-SHOT to a get a text prompt for the second vaccine. 

By the close of the day Saturday, the Health Department had vaccinated 13,335 people in category 1a1, which includes health care workers, first responders and people 75 and older.

With under 2% of the population vaccinated, Shelby County ranks last in the state for the percentage of residents vaccinated, an anxiety not lost on those waiting news of when they will get their second dose.

The worry is misplaced, Haushalter says, noting that lags in various state data entry systems make the numbers look worse than they are. She expects the lags will be compounded when Veterans Affairs begins adding tallies from its Memphis hospital to the count.

The Memphis-Shelby County COVID-19 Task Force will give weekly updates on the number of people in the county who have received first and second doses, which Haushalter says will be a more accurate picture of what is happening.

But Shelby County is also the most populated county in the state.

“It’s going to take us longer to get those percentages up just because our population is so great,” she said.

Dr. Jeff Warren, a member of both the City Council and Memphis-Shelby County COVID-19 Task Force, acknowledged the frustration in the vaccine rollout in his remarks the Rotary Club of Memphis on Tuesday.

“The problem is not that it’s difficult to get an appointment,” he said. “The problem is there is no vaccine.”

The hope, he said, is that the Biden administration will give more people the first shot as soon as possible. If there are delays in getting the second, Warren says not to worry, noting that the three- and four-week dose schedule was a product of the clinical trial design.

“You can get it (the second dose) months later and be fine,” he said.

The booster shot improves the body’s memory of the antibodies it has already seen, Warren said, which is why the federal government wants to speed up the number of people getting the first dose.

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Under the new Biden administration, states and counties are also expecting a larger supply of vaccine and more predictable allotments, which will improve planning on the ground, although how much larger allocations might be is still unknown.

Second doses held in reserve

States and counties everywhere are holding the supply of second doses, which arrive the week before they are to be scheduled to be administered, said Nikki Hilliard, director of professional affairs for the Arkansas Pharmacist Association.

The manufacturer automatically ships the second doses the prescribed number of weeks after the first was given, she said.

What the public doesn’t understand, Hilliard said, is that 300,000 doses may come in but only 100,000 are administered. The remainder are second-dose allocations, she said, noting that it is not accurate to calculate the percentage vaccinated from the amount shipped. Some of the 200,000 held back are second doses from first-shot vaccines administered weeks earlier.

In Arkansas, about 80% of vaccines will be administered by pharmacies. Arkansas began vaccinating people 70 and older on Monday, Jan. 18, and immediately ran into the situation that people had registered themselves with numerous pharmacies.

“We’re asking people to sign up on one list,” Hilliard said. “We do confirm those appointments, and we’re finding a lot of duplication or that people we are calling have already gotten their shot at another pharmacy. It’s wasting a lot of time.”

Shelby County had the issue of people signing up for numerous appointments before the line opened at the drive-thru Pipkin Building last Tuesday, Jan. 12. The Health Department had to call each and shift the excess shots to people who had called and left messages for appointments. That number is 222-SHOT.

Tennessee will eventually use pharmacies for mass inoculations. The issue in Shelby County now is trying to factor in the percentage of people without appointments and those who are no-shows in the drive-thru line, Haushalter said, and to have an adequate number of doses thawed, but not too much.

“It’s really a constant monitoring of what’s happening throughout the day,” she said, stressing that vaccine is not being wasted in Shelby County.

Strickland and Harris want larger share of vaccine

In the first week, when there lags in the line, other groups were invited in, including mortuary workers, Haushalter said.

“We will keep a running list of individuals who are eligible and can come on very short notice to get vaccine if we notice at the end of the day we have any vaccine that needs to be utilized,” Haushalter said.

Eviction issues

Federal eviction programs stopped more than 1,500 local evictions in the past five months, said Steve Barlow, CEO and founder of Neighborhood Preservation Inc.

“Despite court closures and the federal eviction moratorium, more than 200 eviction cases have already been filed in January of 2021,” he said, noting additional resources for rent and utility assistance will be available in Shelby County.

The Centers for Disease Control Eviction Moratorium may apply to people who are behind in rent now and facing possible eviction.

To be covered, renters must complete and deliver CDC’s letter to their landlords. The letter is available here.

In the meantime, Memphis Area Legal Services has a small amount of funding to help negotiate with landlords, said Cindy Ettingoff, CEO of MALS.

“It’s certainly not the money that we had through the eviction settlement program, but it is our hope that it will be a bridge until we can return to something that looks more like the eviction settlement program,” she said.

People anxious that they may be evicted because they are behind in rent should check to see if their last name is listed under cases on the Shelby County General Sessions Court site

“If your last name is present, there has been a lawsuit filed. And that’s very important because in some circumstances, tenants are not aware that a lawsuit has been filed,” Ettingoff said, noting the eviction notice could have been removed from the door.

“The bottom line is that if you are in arrears on your rent, you do need to be proactive; you do need to check and you do need to complete one of those forms.”

Staff reporter Abigail Warren contributed to this report.


Marty Yanase Alisa Haushalter Dr. Jeff Warren vaccine Nikki Hilliard Arkansas Pharmacists Association
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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