Asked to aid COVID-19 vaccine push, RCF responds

Rotary Club of Farragut’s annual success with Flu Shot Saturday recently triggered a request from Summit Medical Group for RCF to help organize COVID-19 vaccines for its facilities.

On a cold, rainy Sunday, Jan. 31, 28 RCF and Hardin Valley Interact Club volunteers were on hand to direct traffic, hand out forms and greet people as they arrived at SMG headquarters, 1275 Dick Lonas Road, in Knoxville.

Dr. Charlie Barnett, a Summit doctor who also coordinates Rotary’s Flu Shot Saturday, said the drive-through vaccines went smoothly.

“Much like Flu Shot Saturday, there was a line of cars already in place at 7:30 a.m.,” RCF public relations chairman Tom King stated in a club newsletter. “Summit had contacted 1,000 patients — all 92 and older.

“They were assigned to time periods, so traffic was steady all day long,” King added. “Summit was very complimentary of Rotary volunteers and provided lunch.”

He added volunteers would be needed for another round of vaccines Sunday, Feb. 21.

The call for RCF’s assistance came during the club’s regular Zoom meeting Wednesday, Jan. 27, from Barnett, a former RCF member and one of the founders of RCF’s Flu Shot Saturday.

“This morning at 6 a.m., the (Knox County) Health Department notified Summit Medical Group that they have been allotted 1,000 COVID-19 vaccinations,” Barnett said.

“Summit has 20,000 patients they have to give this vaccine to,” he added. “This is their first stop, and there will be more.

“They are going to do this in a vaccination drive-through campaign this weekend. The health department is going to take care of the drawing of the syringes.”

Although Barnett is among the doctors involved in Flu Shot Saturday, he said Summit, as a group, had never attempted such a vaccination effort.

“They are going to try to make appointments, but they don’t know how to do that on such as short notice,” he added at the Jan. 27 meeting. “I imagine it’s going to be sort of a free-for-all.

“They have no idea how to handle traffic, filling out the forms, where to go next, what to do, so they asked me to ask Rotary ‘if you could find 30 volunteers to help handle the traffic and the logistics, which you all do so very well.’”

While he could have asked other area Rotary Clubs for help, “I wanted to start with Farragut first,” Barnett said.

RCF and five other Knox County clubs have been conducting Flu Shot Saturday for the past 28 years.

In 2020, using a three-lane drive-thru, Barnett said, “We gave 1,300 vaccinations in less than four hours.”

Edward Jones, RCF president, said the club does have a mechanism for broadcasting such volunteer requests.

“We’ve got everybody on the club roll, and we can blast everybody and let you know what kind of response we get,” he added.

Leah Berry, HVA Interact representative with RCF, suggested also using Interact members as volunteers.

“I think that will be great because they are going to draw the vaccine inside (the building) and then carry it outside, so you are going to need runners and board collectors – all the stuff (Interact) did for us before (during Flu Shot Saturday),” Barnett replied.