NHCF: vaccine so far a success

Mayor keeping close tabs on local, state allocations

  • This Tennessee Department of Health COVID-19 projected vaccine time graph — set up according to age, health and occupation status — was passed along courtesy of Farragut Mayor Ron Williams - Submitted

  • Karla Lane, NHC Farragut administrator, was among the first to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, as given by a Walgreens employee, at NHC Monday, Dec. 28. Nearly 200 staff and residents received the shots. - Submitted

CVS and Walgreens employees began providing the COVID-19 vaccine in area nursing homes and assisted living facilities last week, including NHC in Farragut.

Administrator Karla Lane, who was among the first of nearly 200 staff and residents receiving the shots, said “it was the best Christmas present I could ever have gotten when they called Dec. 21 to tell us they would have our clinic (Monday, Dec. 28).

“We had to mobilize very quickly — we only had three days to get consent forms signed and get ready. I knew if we didn’t agree to the clinc date, we could be put to the back of the line, and I didn’t want to wait.

“I think we did pretty well, with such short notice and it being the holidays.”

Lane said 125 employees, —about 50 percent of the staff — and 80 percent of NHC’s health care residents received the first dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine during the clinic, which was administered by area Walgreens pharmacists.

“I was happy to get the shot, and happy to have my picture made, showing me getting it,” she said, referring to hers, and other employee’s photos that were posted on NHC’s Facebook page following the vaccinations.

The second dose will be administered 28 days following the first, in a second clinic setting, during which time those who didn’t receive the first shot will be able to do so, as well, said Lane.

“Once we receive the second shot, within two weeks, we should be 94 percent protected,” she added.

Unlike some national media accounts, which have focused on potentially negative side effects from the vaccine, Lane said that was not their experiences.

“It hurt less than the flu shot,” she said. “It was not as sore, and I didn’t have any side effects, no aches or pains. Some of our employees talked about their arms being sore, and some were tired a day or two afterward, but we didn’t have any patients who had any side effects or reactions.”

Even before the shots began being available, Lane said she rallied her employees and encouraged them to see the positive aspects of the coming vaccine.

“I told our staff the vaccine is the first step for us to have a good 2021,” she said. “WE have been health care heroes for the last nine months, and this was a chance for us to step up and be bigger health care heroes. I told them if they

“We have heard so many awful things, about Covid, and even about the vaccine already, but people need to hear the good part of it, too. We had almost 200 people get the vaccine, with no bad reactions. Not among our 90-something residents, or our 18-year-olds who took it.”

Lane said she was especially proud of the participants in the latter age category.

“We had a lot of young people sign up, and I am very proud of them, for setting the example and being willing to take it.”

“I’m proud, too, to be able to tell my grandchildren I was part of history in getting one of the first vaccines. It was truly an historical moment.”

Vaccine rollouts

Farragut Mayor Ron Williams said Gov. Bill Lee’s office, along with a representative from the state department of health, has been keeping elected officials apprised weekly of the situation since two vaccines — Moderna and Pfizer — were approved in late 2020.

“It has definitely been a moving target,” said Williams, who noted the state’s distribution has differed from the Centers for Disease Control guidelines.

“I’m just pleased they have been giving us as much information as they can,” he added.

According to the CDC allocation report, 115,000 doses of Moderna were delivered in Tennessee Dec. 21; 39,800 Dec. 28; and 39,700 Jan. 4. According to the CDC report on Pfizer distribution, 56,500 were delivered Dec. 14; 39,975 Dec. 21; 51,675 on Dec. 28 and 39,975 on Jan. 4.

No additional information about available doses was available at press time.

An estimated 450,000 individuals in Tennessee have been designated in the first priority category as 1a1, and have been among the first to receive the vaccines. State documents reported most of these individuals will receive the vaccines though their employers.

They include first responders; inpatients and other high exposure health care workers; residents and staff of long term care facilities; and adults unable to live independently.

Last week, state guidelines were updated to include those aged 75 and older as being priority recipients, too.

The next category, 1a2, includes mortuary employees and outpatient health caseworkers with direct patient access, among others.

While employees from Walgreens and CVS have administered many shots in long-term care facilities, health departments throughout the state have been vaccinating eligible recipients as well.

Melissa Hill, KCHD’s lead Lead Epidemiology & Reporting Nurse, told Williams in a Dec. 31 email, “as we discussed, the information regarding vaccine distribution is evolving and changing.  We are continuously working to develop the most effective methods to best serve the needs of the community. I am forwarding your concerns regarding communication to the rest of the Vaccine team.”

Hill noted a clinic was held at the Knox County Expo Center, this past Saturday, Jan. 2, during which 500 vaccines were distributed on a first-come, first served basis.

“There are more events being planned, as we want everyone who wishes to be vaccinated to have that opportunity,” Hill added.

Additional information can be found on both the Knox County Health Department web site, covid.knoxcountytn.gov, and the Tennessee Department of Health website, covid19.tn.gov.