Hamilton County Health Department officials began administering the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to those who qualify Thursday morning at their drive-thru vaccination POD at the Tennessee Riverpark and ran into unexpected problems. That was the first day that ages 75 and above and other categories were added to the Tennessee Department of Health’s Vaccination Plan.
Officials said after hundreds who had waited in line for up to six hours were turned away that it was learned that more vaccine was available than first thought so close contacts were called to get the sought-after shots.
Officials said, “Due to the unprecedented interest in the vaccine, roads and highways to the vaccination site backed up for miles and traffic safety was a concern.
“At 1 p.m., officials made the decision to close the gate at the entrance.
People outside of the gate had been sitting in their vehicles for hours, and officials didn’t want them to continue sitting in their cars and not get the vaccine because supply was limited.
“At that point, officials projected there were enough doses for the hundreds of people who were waiting in line inside the park. Those people continued through the park route to the vaccination tent and the last in line left around 4:30.”
Health Department Administrator Becky Barnes said, “Late in the afternoon, we realized we had more vaccine on hand than anticipated. Nurses were able to draw six and occasionally seven doses from some vials instead of the projected five. This was our first day using the Pfizer vaccine and staff had no history to project the actual doses we would have. The vaccine doses had been thawed and prepared and had to be given to people as soon as possible. The Health Department’s intent is to never waste a single dose.
“Since the thawed vaccine needed to be used as soon as possible, staff on-site were asked to call people they knew could get there as soon as possible. By 7 p.m., the Health Department had administered 1,158 doses. Not a single dose was wasted.”
Ms. Barnes said, “The dose estimate was a miscalculation on our part and we have learned from this. We ask for the continued patience of our residents as Health Department staff work through the challenges this massive undertaking brings.”
The Health Department plans to open additional vaccination days next week when shipments arrive and will update the public as soon as those dates are confirmed.
In the meantime, the public is asked to subscribe to the Health Department’s mailing list http://bit.ly/3nWWh5P, visit the COVID-19 vaccination webpage: https://bit.ly/3hrmQxJ or follow on social media: http://health.hamiltontn.org/AllServices/Coronavirus(COVID-19)/ConnectWithUs.aspx to receive the most up-to-date vaccine distribution information. The hotline opens again Saturday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at (423) 209-8383.