Ballad Health to cease new vaccinations for public in Tennessee

The state of Tennessee is ending the supply of COVID-19 vaccine to Ballad Health facilities in upper East Tennessee.

As a result, the hospital system is shutting down a pair community vaccination centers in Kingsport and Bristol.

Ballad’s Viriginia CVC’s will remain open.

The CVCs in Kingsport and Bristol will cease giving first doses of the vaccine on Saturday, Jan. 23, while its center in Johnson City will provide its final first dose Friday.

All three Tennessee centers will still provide second-dose vaccines to everyone who received their first shot. After the second-dose administration is complete, the Kingsport and Bristol CVCs will cease operation. The future of the Johnson City CVC will be evaluated, pending future first-dose vaccine allocations from the Tennessee Department of Health.

The announcement comes two days after Hamblen County COVID-19 Task Force officials questioned the state’s vaccine distribution plan.

The Hamblen County Health Department, they said, had not been given the appropriate resources to deliver the amount of vaccine needed - or even supplied - by the state.

Communication has also be lacking, Task Force members said.

David Purkey, task force member and former state commissioner of the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, said he shared the frustration of other task force members.

He said he tried to speak with state officials himself, but got little help.

“I get a little tired of being labeled a hot spot community and not getting support,” he said.

Ballad Health officials said they are proud to have played a part in vaccinating Tennesseans from the deadly virus.

Ballad Health has provided more than 27,600 doses in Northeast Tennessee, amounting to more than 59% of the 46,275 vaccinations provided in those counties as of Monday, Jan. 18. Vaccination rates in Northeast Tennessee – as well as Southwest Virginia – far outpace state-wide averages in both Tennessee and Virginia, as well as the national averages. Ballad Health has provided more than 6,663 doses in its Commonwealth counties.

Ballad Health established its community vaccination centers with the support of the Tennessee and Virginia Department of Health to assist with vaccine distribution and provide the shots to community healthcare workers, frontline caregivers and some community members who are over the age of 75.

Recently, the Tennessee Department of Health made a policy decision to shift distribution away from hospitals, and thus, the supply of vaccines being provided to Ballad Health from the Tennessee Department of Health has been reduced substantially.

Decisions regarding the amount of vaccines and where they are distributed are made solely by state departments of health. Future vaccination distribution, including the expansion of the vaccine to other age groups, job roles and risk categories, is dependent on guidance by Tennessee and Virginia departments of health.

Click here for the Hamblen County site

Click Here for the Grainger County site

Click here for the Cocke County site

Click here for the Claiborne County site

Click here for the Jefferson County site

Click here for the state's vaccine eligibility tool.