BMS Dragway COVID-19 vaccination gate closed at noon, expecting to run out of vaccine

Local Coronavirus Coverage

BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL)- News Channel 11 has just confirmed with health officials that the gate for the COVID-19 vaccination drive-thru at Bristol Motor Speedway has closed at noon.

Officials at the Dragway told News Channel 11’s Kaylyn Kluck that there were too many cars on campus and they were concerned they would run out of the vaccine.

Photo: WJHL

Health officials on site did not want people to continue to wait in line if there was not enough vaccine.

“I had almost 500 cars on campus, 400-and-some to 500 cars,” said Mark Moody, emergency response coordinator for the Sullivan County Regional Health Department. “And again, that’s not all single occupancy, a lot of people were at least two, some cars had three and four people in them. Our concern was, I don’t want to make people wait all this time and not be able to vaccinate them.”

Moody said people already waiting in line on-site before noon were able to be vaccinated. On Thursday afternoon, officials with the health department said all vaccine doses prepared for the day were used.

Some News Channel 11 viewers reported being told by workers on site there weren’t enough vaccines prior to noon on Thursday. Moody encouraged those fitting the criteria who weren’t able to be vaccinated to come back on Friday.

Vaccination is scheduled to last at the BMS Dragway site Monday through Friday until March 12th. Officials are asking patients to come prepared.

“We’re urging them to make sure you got a full tank of gas, maybe warm clothes with you, you may bring a little snack or something because there will be a wait,” said Moody. “And that initial wait will be our startup. Once we get the line flowing it goes pretty effectively.”

The Sullivan County Regional Health Department tweeted Thursday afternoon that they would resume vaccinations on Friday morning “pending vaccine availability.”

Moody anticipated the health department would have around a thousand more doses on hand to administer Friday.

Officials said they will be closely watching the weather as well. Moody said heavy snow on Friday could delay or cause vaccine distribution to be canceled. He said the health department would send out a release if this happened and alert the public on its social media channels.

Groups who can be vaccinated at BMS Dragway currently include people 75 and older, as well as healthcare workers.

Ashley Andrews, a Sullivan County-based healthcare worker, said she and some of her coworkers waited for around four hours to receive their shots Thursday.

“Good thing we’re among friends,” said Andrews. “So we played a few games and chit-chatted and talked. And there was of course people getting out of their cars and stretching and everybody just seemed to be really patient and everything went smooth. It was just really lengthy.”

Machael Miller, another Sullivan County resident, also agreed being vaccinated was worth the wait.

“We were in the line four and a half hours,” Miller said. “When we got out on the highway to get in, it was already backed up about a quarter of a mile on [Highway 394.] But everything seemed to be working well. This is a wonderful place for it.”

This is a developing story. Look for updates on WJHL.com.

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