BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Sullivan County Regional Health Department announced Tuesday night that the COVID-19 vaccine will be administered at two new locations. This follows hundreds of people lining up to be vaccinated at the department’s Blountville location on Monday and Tuesday.
Vaccines will be administered at Bristol Motor Speedway Dragway beginning Thursday, January 7th from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Appointments are not required. Vaccines will be given through a drive-through system.
The vaccination is available to health care workers in Tennessee’s 1a1 and 1a2 phases and people 75 and older.
On Wednesday, Emergency Response Coordinator Mark Moody of the Sullivan County Regional Health Department said 460 vaccinations had been administered at the health department on Monday and 996 on Tuesday.
Moody said the congestion in the area was making travel to and from several buildings difficult, prompting the need for the BMS location.
Moody said on Wednesday that he had around 1,200-1,300 doses of the Pfizer vaccine available for individuals on through Thursday.
More vaccines are expected to be given to health department at a later time during the week.
“My plan is to vaccinate here, Monday through Friday from 9 [a.m.] to 3 [p.m.] until March 12,” Moody said outside of the dragway on Wednesday.
The health department released a map of the route people should take when entering off Highway 394. Vaccination is scheduled to start at 9 a.m.
“There is no benefit to coming out at 4:30 in the morning and sitting. We’re not going to open the gates at Copperhead Road until we’re close to being ready,” said Moody.
Moody told News Channel 11 that vaccinations at the new locations would be dependent upon supplies but was hopeful that Pfizer would be producing more vaccines at an increased rate.
Any Tennessee resident meeting the qualifications to be vaccinated at this time may do so at BMS, but Moody says the general rule of thumb is for the health department to vaccinate people who either live or work in Sullivan County.
Virginians who work in Sullivan County are also eligible; however, Moody says it is preferred that out-of-state people be vaccinated in their home state.
“If somebody wants to come from Washington County, Tennessee or Carter County, yes we will vaccinate them as long as they meet the criteria,” said Moody.
The health department also announced vaccination will begin at the Kingsport Civic Auditorium starting Monday, January 11th from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. These vaccinations will be walk-in and appointments are encouraged. Appointments can be made by calling 423-279-2777.
The department said there would be no vaccinations on Wednesday, January 6th.
The vaccinations will be for healthcare workers in Tennessee’s Phase 1a1 and 1a2 groups, and for people aged 75 and older.
Sullivan County’s health department administered the COVID-19 vaccine to people in these groups on Tuesday. Hundreds lined up in Blountville to receive the shot until doses ran out in the afternoon.
The health department also announced that COVID-19 testing will be discontinued at the Kingsport Health Department effective Wednesday. Those needing to get tested should go to the Blountville location between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Health department officials said they received nearly a thousand doses of the Pfizer vaccine from Ballad Health on Monday night to give out on Tuesday.
The health department is still expecting a shipment of another thousand vaccine doses to come in from the state on Wednesday.
Vaccine distribution was scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, but officials said cars were lining up starting around 3 a.m. This caused traffic delays and blocked entrances of businesses and Sullivan County government buildings.
Officials said the new locations would allow for better traffic flow. Health Director Dr. Stephen May said around noon on Tuesday, the department had given out about 450 doses that day.
“I just can’t tell you how proud I am, of how our little health department has done such a yeoman’s job in getting this many doses of vaccine out, quickly and rapidly,” he said. “We know this is the end for the pandemic, when we’ve got vaccine that we can give out.”