COVID-19 Updates, 2nd Dose Vaccine Appointments In Hamilton County

The Hamilton County Health Department has added 3,134 second dose Pfizer appointments to the schedule from February 21-24 at the Tennessee River Park & the CARTA Bus Barn. Health Officials Warn Of Active Cases Still Being Transmitted, Long-Term COVID complications, And That Mask-Wearing, Safety Protocols Should Still Continue Even After A Person Has Been Vaccinated.

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Published February 17, 2021

Hamilton County, TN – The Hamilton County Health Department has added 3,134 second dose Pfizer appointments to the schedule from February 21-24 at the Tennessee Riverpark and the CARTA Bus Barn. 

Second dose appointments for people in the eligible phases (1a1, 1a2 and adults ages 70 and up) can be made at the Health Department’s website or by calling the Health Department’s Appointment Call Center Monday through Friday from 8AM – 4PM:  

• Second dose appointments: 423-209-5399  

The Health Department warns that due to high volume of calls, people may experience a busy signal and need to hang up and call back.  

In an update issued by Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger on February 11th, he stated, “The appointments that we’re doing for the vaccines is going extremely well.  We know that there’s frustration among some of our citizens because it’s hard to get in on the phone line.  The phones are answered first come, first served and we’re doing the best we can with the eight phone lines we have.” 

The Health Department recommends making your reservations online, if possible. 

Coppinger said, “We’re really pleased with the people that are signing up for the second doses.” 

The vaccine requires two doses in order to be the most effective, with the second one given around a month after the first.  

Starting on February 19th, vaccines will also be administered at a third site, the Enterprise South Nature Park.  Like the other two sites, this site will be a drive-thru and by appointment only. 

“We’re very optimistic that as Johnson & Johnson comes online, in addition with what we have with Pfizer and Moderna, that hopefully, somewhere in the near future, we’ll be able to get more vaccine and administer more shots,” Coppinger said. 

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Doctor Mark Anderson from CHI Memorial Infection Disease Associates stated, “Things are looking a lot better.  Our numbers are falling of positive cases, admissions and hospital stays.  And we’re getting more people vaccinated through our Health Department…There’s light at the end of the tunnel, but we’re still in the tunnel.” 

Anderson stated that there are still active cases of Covid being transmitted every day and people are still getting sick. 

He went on to say that those who have had mild cases of the illness, that didn’t require hospitalization are “still being left with a lot of late COVID problems and complications.” 

“We’re having to organize clinics and treatment protocols across the United States and in our Hamilton County medical facilities to take care of a large number of people with ongoing problems with Covid, even after they appear to have recovered,” Anderson said. 

Regarding the safety of the vaccine, Hamilton County Pediatrician, Doctor Fernando Urrego stated that “The safety data is the most intensive that we have ever had….there is really a minimal risk from these shots…It is safe, there is science supporting these vaccines.”  

Urrego stated that they have limited information on whether vaccinated individuals are less likely to transmit the virus, “We know that the vaccine has shown high efficacy at preventing severe disease; what we have limited information on is might reduce transmission.” 

“A person who has been vaccinated could get the infection, not have any symptoms, and potentially infect someone else,” Urrego said. 

Urrego expressed that current guidelines state that to decrease the risk of transmission, people, even if they are vaccinated, need to continue to wear masks and follow the other safety protocols, the same as those who have not been vaccinated. 

Hamilton County’s vaccine distribution is guided by phases according to the State of Tennessee’s Vaccination Plan. Only those eligible in the current phases and eligible for a second dose will be able to make an appointment.  

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Current Phases/Eligibility –

Phase 1a1 includes:  

• Hospital/Free-Standing Emergency Department Staff with Direct Patient Exposure and/or Exposure to Potentially-Infectious Materials  

• Home health care staff  

• COVID-19 mass testing site staff  

• Student health providers  

• Staff & Residents of Long-Term Care Facilities  

• (Skilled Nursing Facilities, Assisted Living Centers, Homes for the Aged, DIDD Residential Centers, Group Homes)  

• First Responders with Direct Public Exposure including Jailers  

• Individuals >18yrs who cannot live independently due to serious chronic medical condition or intellectual or developmental disabilities  

Phase 1a2 includes:  

• Other Health Care Workers with Direct Patient Exposure  

• Primary care providers and staff  

• Outpatient specialty providers and staff working with acute patients  

• Pharmacists and staff  

• Patient transport  

• Outpatient therapists  

• Urgent visit center providers and staff  

• Environmental services  

• Oral health providers  

• Behavioral health providers  

• Outpatient laboratory staff working with COVID-19 specimens  

• Funeral/mortuary workers with direct decedent contact  

Age Group Bracket:  

• 70 years or older, must be Hamilton County resident  

• No specific medical conditions are required  

Information to Know Prior to Appointment:  

• Do not arrive more than 15 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment.  

• Wear appropriate clothing to get a shot in upper arm  

• Bring proof of Hamilton County residency (if applicable)  

• Bring proof of Hamilton County employment (if applicable)  

• Bring proof of age (if applicable)  

• Bring COVID-19 Vaccine Encounter form (if possible; form available for download on registration page)  

• Be prepared to wait 20 minutes after shot  

• Be prepared for the entire process to take an hour or more  

Vaccination Record Card:  

• When patients receive their first dose with the Health Department, they will receive a Vaccination Record Card with the following important information.  

• The vaccine manufacturer (either Moderna or Pfizer)  

• The date the first dose of vaccine was given  

• The date the second vaccine dose is due   

The Health Department states that it is important to keep the Vaccination Record Card because when making the appointment for the second dose of vaccine, it helps ensure the correct product is received and in the correct timeframe.    

The current recommendation is that second dose vaccinations be received either on or after the recommended date on the Vaccination Record Card, not before.   

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