Health department director resigns over vaccine scandal

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris told county commissioners that Alisa Haushalter, director of the Shelby County Health Department, has tendered her resignation Friday.

As of Friday, Harris said, Haushalter is still an employee of the health department. There will be a “wind-down period” until March 15, and an interim director will be named next week, he said.

Commissioner Mick Wright called the situation a “miscarriage of justice” and said Haushalter should be terminated immediately.

Commissioners called a special meeting Friday to address the issue as the scandal over expired and stockpiled vaccines widened. Haushalter was not present. Several county commissioners said they were disappointed she wasn’t there to answer their questions, saying the public deserves answers.

Haushalter’s resignation notice comes after The Tennessee Department of Health said Friday they have contacted the FBI over the potential theft of COVID-19 vaccines by a volunteer from the Pipkin site in Memphis.

There was also new information released by the state Friday stating two children were vaccinated when they weren’t supposed to.

The state was already investigating 2,400 vaccine doses that expired, and a stockpile of 30,000 excess doses. Local health officials had blamed a snow storm for the stockpile and expired doses, but the state said most of the expirations happened before the snow event.

Harris said the waste of vaccines was “gut-wrenching and unacceptable.” He said the county’s internal investigation in ongoing.

One Memphis City Council member, Chase Carlisle, called for Haushalter’s resignation Thursday.

Gov. Bill Lee, visiting Memphis on Friday, called the news “disappointing.”

“Well, I certainly think that what has happened in the Shelby County Health Department provides a lot of concern and there are a lot of questions that need to be asked. At the very least, I can say that there has been a real lack of leadership there,” he said when asked if Dr. Alisa Haushalter with the department should resign.

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