SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Sullivan County Regional Health Department has announced the gates are closed for vaccinations Tuesday, less than an hour after starting to administer the vaccines.
Vaccinations will also not be available at Bristol Dragway on Wednesday, according to health department officials.
According to a tweet from the health department, additional dates for vaccinations will be announced when more information on the vaccine supply is available.
The health department began vaccinating at Bristol Dragway at 9 a.m. and planned to receive eligible people until 3 p.m.
Vaccinations were administered to people in Phases 1a1, 1a2 and people ages 70 and older.
Traffic was backed up along Highway 394 before the vaccinations started. Cars were turned away once officials determined there were enough on site to account for the 675 doses that were available.
“It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” said Emergency Management Coordinator Mark Moody.
Moody said the Sullivan County Regional Health Department is administering vaccines as soon as they are available from the state.
Previously only healthcare workers and those 75 and up could be vaccinated at the BMS site. Tuesday marked the first time people in the 70 and older category were eligible.
This meant retired schoolteacher Danny Fragile could receive his shot after patiently waiting for five hours in line.
“I’ve seen three people near me sick, and I’ve lost two former students that died,” said Fragile. “So I sure didn’t want that. My wife would like to come, but she’s only 66.”
Moody expects the health department to restrict the eligible age range to 70 and older for at least a couple more weeks. Currently, they receive 1,170 doses a week from the state. Moody says they need more doses allotted before they can open up to the 65 and older category.
“Until we get that, it’s going to be difficult to move to that age population. Because for Sullivan County that’s a relatively large population,” he said.
Moody thinks it could be February before the 65 and older range and 1b group that includes teachers can be vaccinated at the Dragway.
The site will be closed Wednesday as doses are out. Moody plans reopen it Thursday or Friday.
“We want to encourage people to not get discouraged, but keep coming back,” he said.
Moody believes the health department has given over 8,000 doses total in Sullivan County so far.