Sullivan Co. Health Dept.: 739 doses administered during first 2 days of mass vaccine event

Local Coronavirus Coverage

SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Sullivan County Regional Health Department has administered less than 1,000 first doses of the Pfizer vaccine during the first two days of its three-day mass vaccination event.

The health department had set aside 8,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine for the event, according to Regional Medical Director Dr. Stephen May.

SCRHD Public Information Officer Rachel Dean told News Channel 11 that on Wednesday, April 14, 192 first doses were administered.

547 doses were administered Thursday, according to Dean.

The event had originally been planned to take place at Bristol Motor Speedway and utilize the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine.

However, after the FDA and CDC recommended a pause in the usage of the J&J vaccine, the health department decided to switch to using Pfizer.

The event also moved across the highway to Whitetop Creek Park.

While Whitetop has the ability to accommodate an influx of traffic, the supply of the vaccine seemingly outweighed the demand during this event.

Following the totaled turnout of 739 for the first two days, midday Friday, Mark Moody said they’d be lucky to reach 1,000 doses administered by the end of the workday.

Moody said of the doses administered, he found that a number of doses were second shots and not those of newly vaccinated individuals.

Dr. Stephen May feels we are close to the point in which the people who wish to get vaccinated have already done so, and said that the lack of demand worries him in terms of reaching herd immunity and defeating the virus.

“It’s disconcerting and with the lack of demand is going to come to the change in strategy in getting the vaccine out,” said Dr. May.

Originally, the Whitetop site was to stay open until early June, but a decrease in demand might cause a change of plans as well as a course of action.

“We’re still evaluating this site, we have plans to stay here until June 4th and then probably close down, but if the demand is not there, we may probably close down earlier and go to a strike team format where we will go to various organizations and agencies and set up and do a one-day vaccination clinic there,” said Moody.

With thousands of vaccines allocated for this mass vaccination event unused, Moody said they can and will be stored up until their expiration date in late July, but hopes they can distribute them long before they reach that point.

“I don’t know if we will be able to administer all of that or if we will need to return some to the state where they will again, redistribute it to other areas,” said Moody.

Dr. May said anyone from anywhere can come to get the vaccine and that reaching that herd immunity is crucial to beating the virus. He said it is still too early to drop safety measures and people must be vigilant and wear and masks, social distance and wash their hands.

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