MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A little more than a day after switching to a new signup system for vaccinations in Shelby County, Memphis city officials stepped forward Saturday to say that system did not work. Memphis city leaders hoped moving over to a new system would make the vaccination process faster in Shelby County.
Called “VRAS,” it went online overnight Friday and was right away plagued with issues as some people were unable to schedule a second vaccine appointment, and others were unable to complete registration, said Memphis’ chief operating officer Doug McGowen.
Saturday, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and McGowen said all appointments will be made through the old system, known as “SignUp Genius,” instead.
“What we’re doing is too important to risk any interruption in the flow,” McGowen said Saturday at a press conference to address the issues.’
“I just want to apologize for the inconvenience people who may have been distressed yesterday,” McGowen said.
The change was made as the city took over vaccination control from Shelby County.
“It did not work for a lot of citizens and for our internal operations,” said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland at a Saturday press conference.
There were also issues with the 222-Shots helpline Friday as excessively long wait times were reported. Callers were set, as of Friday, to be rerouted to state workers instead of those in Shelby County.
The expiration of thousands of vaccine doses prompted multiple investigations at the Shelby County Health Department.
Memphis Fire Director Gina Sweat is the second in command for the city’s distribution effort. Saturday, Sweat showed reporters assembled at the Memphis Office of Emergency Management some of the new ways the city was better tracking vaccine quantities and dates of expiration.
“That’s critical,” Sweat said. “The whole mission fails if we don’t control the mission properly.”