Health officials update vaccination progress as hospitals remain in surge capacity

JACKSON, Tenn. — Health officials have good news and bad news about the vaccination progress in Madison County.

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Health department officials confirmed, so far, they’ve been able to vaccinate more than 500 first responders as part of their first phase of vaccinations.

“We ran out of vaccine around 6:00. We were supposed to run until 8:00” said Jackson-Madison County Regional Health Department director Kim Tedford.

In fact, if first responders had shown up to the health department on Wednesday, they would have seen a sign telling them that there were no vaccines available. That’s because the state notified the health department that their expected shipment of 900 Moderna vaccines would not arrive on time.

It’s a stark reminder that the vaccination process won’t always be smooth, and that’s why a strict timeline isn’t realistic.

“I hope this is not an indication of how it’s going to go with the vaccine process and having trouble getting the vaccine,” Tedford said.

The push to get as many first responders and healthcare workers vaccinated comes as the hospital is under further stress.

“We’ve had requests from Mississippi and Arkansas and other hospitals in other states, looking for ICU beds. We’re obligated by federal law to take those patients if we have beds available,” said Amy Garner, chief compliance and communications officer for West Tennessee Healthcare.

Garner confirmed Wednesday that almost every frontline worker at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital has been scheduled to receive the Pfizer vaccine, and that they are still on track with their phases.

“Once we had all of them scheduled, we were able to open our schedule up and vaccinate even more employees across our health system,” Garner said.

That’s going to be necessary as the hospital also confirmed they had 58 patients on ventilators Wednesday morning.

They were able to secure more ventilators from a local supplier, but the situation is reaching dangerous levels.

“We don’t need to act like things are normal because they’re not normal,” Garner said.

Both Garner and Tedford are pleading with the community: be safe this Christmas and follow the guidelines, or else it might get worse.

“They’re in surge capacity. They are overwhelmed, and the numbers going up are not going to help that situation at all,” Tedford said.

Garner says the hospital has vaccinated more than 1,800 employees.

Categories: COVID-19 Updates, Local News, News