The daily beast
The vaccine rollout in this county was a total fiasco
Sarah Meyssonnier / Reuters – Federal agencies rolled into Shelby County, Tennessee this week as the mismanagement disasters that plagued the local coronavirus vaccine adoption reached a boiling point. The county’s health department spoiled more than 2,000 doses, two children vaccinated against Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guidelines (CDC), and a volunteer who was allegedly dumped from a site with doses. The Tennessee Health Department, the FBI, and the CDC are currently investigating. Shelby’s health director Alisa Haushalter resigned on Friday. Now residents are wondering if the doses they received have expired. “You feel safe that you are safe to do things, but now you don’t know whether you are insured or not. You don’t know whether or not the shot you received is effective, ”said Gayle Jones, 80, who was born and raised in Cordova, Tennessee. She received her second shot of the Pfizer vaccine on Wednesday. “We missed a whole year because we stayed home. We finally felt like we could get out and maybe be okay. “Hundreds of people repeat what they say on Facebook in comments on county health bulletins. Thousands of Memphians who don’t know if they’ve been properly vaccinated since the vaccines were thawed were not done according to CDC guidelines! “Chilton and her 75-year-old husband flew from their home in Tiburon, California to visit downtown Memphis for two weeks in late February 2020. They stayed a year and lived in the same clothes for two weeks. Saturday would be the day they achieved full immunity, two weeks after their second Pfizer shots. She and her husband had started discussing when they would return to Tiburon: “Today was the day I was supposed to celebrate like, ‘We’re free! ‘and instead we get that. I feel like we’re in limbo again, ”she told The Daily Beast. The state began investigating the county health department last week after it was announced that the county allowed 1,300 doses to expire in February. State investigators found that that month, in fact, 2,400 cans went bad and were thrown away, with 840 wasted in one day, February 15. Although the vaccines require ultra-cold storage to remain viable, some syringes felt warm to the touch when the investigator touched them. The Tennessean reported. Due to residents’ fears, some cans have disappeared. Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said in a press conference on Friday that 12 syringes expired during a vaccination event on February 23, but no one returned them to the dispensing pharmacy. The doses are not taken into account. “There appears to be a lack of accountability and, in a sense, leadership, which has undoubtedly potentially harmed some people and withheld the vaccine from the people who needed it,” Piercey said. Jones had hoped to feel safe attending the event with two great grandchildren due for birth soon. She believes she will still go, albeit now with a sense of insecurity and risk. Her daughter, son, and two of her grandchildren all had COVID-19. A granddaughter and daughter-in-law are both pregnant and work in the healthcare sector. “We have to take it as it is. I don’t know if they can prove whether or not the vaccine we got was real and effective, ”she said. Philton will postpone her trip until the vaccination effort investigation is completed. “I don’t know if we will always know for sure whether we are protected or not,” she said. The Memphis Municipal Health Department has taken on the vaccination effort for the entire county. In addition to procedural problems, the vaccination effort has suffered an alleged robbery. The state told the FBI on Thursday that a volunteer allegedly stole vaccine doses on February 3, according to Piercey. The state health commissioner said the city had not received any information about the cans’ disappearance, which resulted in a delay of nearly a month in reporting. Shelby County’s chief administrative officer Dwan Gilliom said Piercey was wrong and brought it to law enforcement’s attention, but no arrests had been made. Two children in Shelby County were also vaccinated on February 3, according to Piercey. Neither the Moderna nor the Pfizer vaccine is approved for anyone under the age of 16 because the medicine has only been tested on adults. The mess has further undermined Jones’ already cratered confidence in the local government, which has struggled to pick up trash and provide water for residents in recent weeks. “You just have to come together in the Memphis government. They’re completely unreliable, ”said Jones. “We just let the water boil for 8 days because all the pipes were broken. They just thought, ‘Oh my god, can’t you do anything? ‘“Chilton feels the same way. “I don’t think my feelings about the county and state health department would be printable, frankly,” she said. Read More Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now! Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside delves deeper into the stories that matter to you. Learn more.