UPDATE: The Sullivan County Health Department says it is suspending appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations due to “unforeseen technical issues” but will continue to administer vaccinations this week as supplies last.
“We apologize for the inconvenience with our phone system and hope to have it fixed within the next 24 hours,” the department said in a Facebook post Monday night.
After announcing earlier today that it had run out of vaccine, the health department says it has received more and will vaccinate 1a1 and 1a2 individuals along with those who are 75 or older Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. while supplies last. No appointments will be required. Vaccinations will be done drive-thru style at the health department’s Blountville location.
SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL)- Officials with the Sullivan County Regional Health Department issued a news release Monday as they were reportedly experiencing an “extremely high call volume” due to the COVID-19 vaccine.
In a Facebook post Monday afternoon, health officials in Sullivan County reported “We are currently out of COVID-19 vaccine. We expect to receive more on Wednesday and will update the public as we receive more information and vaccine in stock.”
Traffic was backed up along Blountville Bypass Monday morning as the Health Department distributed the COVID-19 vaccine. Outpatient Health care workers who have direct contact with patients could drive up to the department and receive the shot, as well as people 75 and older.
The Department is scheduling appointments for distribution but not everyone could get through the phone system to make one. Health Director Dr. Stephen May asked the public for patience, saying the system couldn’t handle the call volume.
“We received 11,000 calls before 8 o’ clock this morning, which did crash our phone system. And we’re working on increasing that capacity,” said Dr. May.
The Sullivan County Health Department received 1,400 vaccine doses at the beginning of last week, according to Dr. May. That amount ran out Monday afternoon.
“And that’s good. We want these vaccines in arms and not going to waste,” said Dr. May.
The Department said supply was extremely limited but they expect to receive more doses Wednesday.
“I will guarantee that once we get vaccine, we will be distributing it as hard and fast as we can till we get it all gone,” said Dr. May. “And then we’re also looking at, in the future, potentially expanding some of our sites into different parts of the county to help control with traffic flow.”
An earlier tweet from the health department read in part, “We ask that you please be patient with us, we will notify the public when we receive more information and additional vaccine in stock.”
News Channel 11’s Ashley Sharp and Kaylyn Kluck both reported long lines at the Sullivan County Health Department’s office in Blountville Monday morning.
Health department officials also reminded people in Monday’s release that COVID-19 testing is offered at both the Kingsport and Blountville locations of the health department Monday through Friday from 9:00-3:00.
This is a developing story. Look for updates on WJHL.com.