COVID-19 vaccines continue to be distributed nationwide, and farragutpress is sharing the most updated news available as of press deadline.
Covenant Health hosted a virtual media briefing Monday, Jan. 11, to provide an update on vaccine distribution, including doses given to date, roll-out of second doses for employees and next steps in communities served by its member organizations.
Dr. Mark Browne, chief medical officer for Covenant Health, opened the webinar by announcing that Tennessee is top five in the United States for COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
He reported more than 200,000 vaccinations have been given in Tennessee, and 3.1 percent of the state’s population has been vaccinated.
Debbi Honey, chief nursing officer, announced since Dec. 17, Covenant Health has administered more than 7,000 doses to frontline employees, home care providers and medical staff. Last week, employees began receiving the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
Honey reported Covenant Health has five vaccination teams visiting Covenant Health facilities to vaccinate employees.
“Our hospital locations are divided into ‘east’ and ‘west’ regions, and the teams have been to all our acute care facilities multiple times to offer clinics,” she said, adding “approximately 60 percent of Covenant Health employees have received the vaccine.”
To date, no adverse reactions have been reported among vaccine recipients, other than sore arms and a few cases of the chills.
The estimated time frame to vaccinate all eligible Covenant Health employees wishing to receive it, including both doses of the vaccine (which are given about 21 days apart), is in the next five to six weeks.
“While COVID-19 vaccines are safe … for specific medical needs or concerns, people should contact their primary care providers,” Browne added.
In accordance with state and federal guidelines, Covenant Health is working on a plan for the communities it serves to make the vaccine available to the public, according to a CH press release.
“Plans for distribution are dependent on the vaccine supply received from the state,” the release continued.
“... The COVID-19 vaccine has provided a new sense of hope,” Browne said.
“We are thankful for the availability and deployment of the vaccine, as it has proved to be a morale boost across the Covenant Health system,” Honey added.
Ann Metz, director of marketing and public relations for Tennova, said Monday, “Tennova began vaccinating frontline workers, including doctors and nurses at our hospitals across the region, on December 18.
“We continue to vaccinate our staff in (Farragut), Powell, Jefferson City, LaFollette and Newport,” she added.
“As the state is coordinating vaccine distribution, we will continue to follow Tennessee’s distribution guidelines.”
Knox County Health Dept.
Just over two weeks after receiving the first batch of COVID-19 vaccinations, the Knox County Health Department reported it had vaccinated nearly 4,000 people — including 500 who were vaccinated in roughly three hours during the Saturday, Jan. 2, event at Knox County Expo Center.
In addition, KCHD scheduled more than 200 vaccination appointments last week for those 75 years and older, but announced earlier this week all appointments have been filled.
Vaccination opportunities will continue to be announced on the health department website, social media channels and through local media partners.
As calls increase, the department is working to add more phone lines to the Public Information Line (865-215-5555) and offer online registration for vaccination appointments. Additional information will be released as its available, according to a press release.
For more information, visit knoxcounty.org/health. For a list of all counties and their contact information, visit www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/health/documents/cedep/novel-coronavirus/CountyPhaseStatus.pdf.
The vaccine is being administered in phases, with 1a1, 1a2 and those 75 years and older currently on the priority list.
For more information on phases, visit https://covid19.tn.gov/covid-19-vaccines/vaccine-phases/
Residents and staff of long-term care facilities have been receiving their vaccinations through a federal partnership with select private pharmacies – not KCHD.
Last week Gov. Bill Lee announced a new digital tool to help inform Tennesseans when they will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The eligibility tool allows users to opt-in to receive updates and notifications about their vaccine phase and provides risk-based and age-based phase information at the county level..
The eligibility tool and COVID-19 information can be accessed at https://covid19.tn.gov/.
Difficulty getting vaccines
However, even individuals in the priority categories have expressed concerns about not being able to schedule the vaccines in a timely manner.
Mary King of Farragut, who is a nurse practitioner and works alongside her husband, Dr. Dennis King, at their clinic, MD Wellness Center, shared their story as first-responders attempting to receive the vaccine.
“I called multiple county health departments without much luck, but Roane County (Health Department) was awesome and extremely helpful,” Mary King said. “They were amazing, and we were beyond impressed with them,” she added.
Farragut Mayor Ron Williams, who receives weekly updates from the state regarding vaccine rollouts, said he has repeatedly asked about distribution, but has never been given a clear answer. He also said he suggested to Lee a couple of options that might help distribution as more vaccines become available.
“I suggested they could work it like our Rotary Club (of Farragut) does when they have Free Flu Shot Saturday,” he said. “(Member) David (Smoak, Town administrator) said they can do about 1,000 shots between 9 a.m. and noon.”
Williams said Knox County Expo Center could be better utilized by opening the truck bays and holding vaccinations in a drive-through scenario, adding, “It would be faster than a tent, and they could have a double line” like RCF.