Health director updates Shelby County leaders on vaccine, testing as hospitals pushed to limit


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Several Shelby County commissioners said during a meeting Monday they are hopeful Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine receiving full FDA approval will encourage more people to get their vaccine.

“I know there are some folks in the community who have been waiting for that full approval,” said Dr. Michelle Taylor, director of the Shelby County Health Department. “Now if you’ve been giving that reason to your family members who ask, to your employer who ask, to anybody who asks and pleads with you to get a vaccine, if your reason has been full approval, then you received your answer today.”

As hospitals are pushed to their limit, county leaders are hopeful that approval and the current mask mandate will lower transmission. Taylor said we should see the results from the current mask order by the end of the week.

Commissioners also expressed concerns about testing capacity.

Taylor said there’s been a drastic increase in testing in the last few weeks, with some sites going from 40 tests a day to hundreds. The health department is working on ways to meet that growing demand.

Those efforts start with talks use to Pipkin Building as a dual vaccination and testing site. Taylor said nothing is set in stone as the city of Memphis would be the lead, but staffing will be a huge factor.

The City of Memphis is preparing to offer booster doses. Taylor said there can be crossover between Moderna and Pfizer.

Taylor said the Shelby County Health Department has submitted a plan to state to take over vaccinations once again.

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