Vaccine crashers prompt health officials to clear up confusion over who is eligible now – WREG NewsChannel 3

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Shelby County Health Department wants to get the word out about who is eligible for the vaccine right now after some people who aren’t eligible showed up for a shot.

Health leaders said it’s critical our health care workers and first responders, who are part of the 1a1 group, receive it first.

“What we’re trying to do is get those people vaccinated so we won’t be losing staff if we continue to see a high rate of disease and have the hospitals overwhelmed,” said Dr. Jeff Warren.

The Shelby County Health Department started giving vaccines Monday at locations in East Memphis and Midtown. But confusion started Tuesday when people from the general public started showing up.

WREG spoke with 74-year-old Mary Ann Chism who said several of her friends, who are not in the first category, received the shot.

“He sent me a picture of the form, it said it’s Moderna vaccine. He said this is legit,” she said.

Chism said she even called the health department to check. Someone directed her to go to Lindenwood Christian Church. There, she waited for more than two hours only to be turned away after a worker told her qualifications changed.

“As we’re starting this up, we’re bringing a whole bunch of people in to help with this,” explained Warren.

“We have medical students, we have nursing students, we have pharmacy students and they’re coming in and they’re helping us staff this because we don’t have the manpower to do it otherwise. Some of these people, it may have been the first day they were working, they may have been confused on what was going on. I think what happened is a few people got through when they probably shouldn’t have and they got on the phone and started calling people.”

In Shelby County here’s who’s eligible right now in the 1a1 category:

  • First responders
  • Staff working at COVID-19 mass testing sites
  • Staff and residents of long-term care facilities
  • Staff of other congregate care facilities such as homes for the intellectually or developmentally disabled
  • Home health care staff 
  • Staff and residents of long-term care facilities
  • Providers of K-12 or university student health services who have direct patient contact or contact with potentially infectious materials

“Right now we have sufficient vaccine to begin the 1a1 category but because of our population and the number of people that fall into that category, we actually need additional vaccine to come in,” said Dr. Alisa Haushalter.

Chism hopes the rollout goes smoother from here.

“I hope that they get this organized because yesterday was total chaos and a lot of confusion,” she said.

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