MEMPHIS, Tennessee — This week and in the weeks ahead, those in charge of vaccine distribution are widening opportunities for shots in arms in more places and targeting more specific population groups.
City of Memphis Chief Operating Office Doug McGowen said more than 225,000 vaccine doses were administered to date in Shelby County, including more than 37,000 doses last week and 39,000 opportunities at fixed and pop-up vaccine sites this week.
Meanwhile, both pop-up and fixed vaccine sites in Shelby County will be closed Wednesday due to the threat of severe weather. People who had appointments through the city of Memphis will be emailed to reschedule their appointment starting Thursday and into next week if necessary.
Teams are expected to finish vaccinating all teachers in Shelby County this week and next week.
The call center at 901-222-SHOT is open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. each day, in addition to online at covid19.memphistn.gov.
As early as Wednesday, EMTs with the Memphis Fire Department and other partners will begin to vaccinate the homeless and homebound population.
At least 500 such slots are expected each week, with the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine that's easier to transport and administer at specific addresses of families with a homebound member.
"We've assembled a list of several hundred individuals who are in the most urgent need with limited transportation and our health care navigators, who are all trained paramedics will visit these individuals with a vaccine."
To narrow racial disparities and make sure more available doses are available in more places, the Frayser pop-up vaccine site will again be open this weekend - and another site will operate Saturday near Hickory Ridge Mall in the Hickory Hill area, with 500 and 1000 vaccine doses available.
The south Memphis and Orange Mound areas are expected to be next in line for pop-up vaccine sites, once specific locations and staffing is finalized.
"We are targeting vaccines in ZIP codes where people need to have greater access, and we are going to continue that each and every week as we identify new partners to deliver pods," McGowen said.
Community partners also recently unveiled the 'It's Our Best Shot' campaign to combat vaccine hesitancy of lower participation in certain groups. That campaign will also extend deep into communities from others.
"It's everything from boots on the ground to grass roots campaigning to people in the neighborhoods who are influencers and people trust," McGowen said.
A new mask directive will take effect Wednesday and health directive no. 19 will take effect Saturday.
The face mask directive will no longer require to provide medical documentation to prove they cannot tolerate wearing a face mask.
The new health directive will allow establishments to stay open until 1:00 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. if someone is finishing a meal.
Groups of up to eight people in the same family can soon gather at a table and bar seating will remain in groups of two seats together with a seat open in between for social distancing.
"Things are trending downward, we are making great progress with vaccination, let's continue to wear our masks," Shelby County Health Officer Dr. Bruce Randolph said.