Shelby County Health Department opens vaccine distribution center

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Shelby County Health Department opened up a vaccine distribution center at the Pipkin Building near the Mid-South Fairgrounds to help distribute doses across the Mid-South.

Though vaccine appointments are booked here through the end of the month, this site should be the first of many that will be established in Shelby County.

In the opening hours of the Pipkin Building as a vaccine distribution center Tuesday, it seemed to run like a well-oiled machine. The carefully chosen site was a success on day one.

“The clients are served in the drive-through, our staff is okay, we also can serve first responders in the same building without any disruption,” said Dr. Judy Martin, the Shelby County Chief of Nursing.

The building’s ability to allow nurses to operate indoors with patients receiving the vaccine in their cars seemed to work well, as temperatures hovered in the low 40s. While this site’s appointments are fully booked through the end of january, health officials have heard the public’s frustrations.

Shelby County can’t control how many doses it receives, but is working to improve the process.

“We are committed to serving this community. This is my community, and I love this community. And I want this community to be healthy,” Martin said.

And better access appears to be on the way.

“We do have some other sites that we’re in the contracting process, we anticipate being able to open up either before the month is out, or the beginning of February depending on the vaccine supply,” said Dr. Alisa Haushalter, Shelby County Health Director.

“Every day we’re working to prepare for additional sites and opportunities for people to receive the vaccine,” Martin said.

Health officials also said they do not foresee any problems with residents receiving their second vaccine shots, especially with the federal government making the choice to no longer hold back doses.

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