Virus task force  discusses second dose plan

The topic of discussion Wednesday for Hamblen County’s COVID-19 Task Force was almost entirely one thing.

Vaccines and, specifically, getting second doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines into people’s arms.

“We are making the contacts for the second doses,” Sherrie Montgomery, director for the Hamblen County Health Department.

The health department plans to start second vaccinations next Wednesday. But, over the last several days, there has been confusion with the public on how to get an appointment for the vaccine.

Click here for the state's vaccine eligibility tool.

Montgomery stressed Wednesday that the health department is reaching out to people for the second dose and the public cannot make an appointment through the state’s online portal that has gone live this week.

The only way to make an appointment for the second dose will be through the Hamblen County Health Department and it will be made either by a telephone call or email.

The second dose for the vaccines are vitally important. In order to receive the most benefit and efficacy, a second dose is needed from the two vaccines which have been approved – Pfizer and Moderna.

Moderna vaccinations require people to get the second dose within 28 days and Pfizer requires 21 days.

The county is currently vaccinating people in the categories of 1a1, 1a2 and those 75 and older.

Those categories include anyone associated with the healthcare profession and first responders.

The health department has changed the way it does business. At first, those who received the first dose of vaccine received a date on a card, but not necessarily an appointment. Now as they leave, they are given a time and day.

“From now on, people leave with an appointment,” she said.

Morristown Mayor Gary Chesney said he has heard from a lot of people on how to properly get to the Web site to sign up and get on the waiting list.

Many who are not in the phases yet are also trying to sign up on a waiting list to get vaccinated.

Montgomery said she encourages people to be patient and not sign up yet until it reaches their phase of vaccination.

There was also confusion this week when the White House suggested that people 65 and older receive the vaccine.

But Montgomery stressed that is only a suggestion and at this point the county has not gotten to the phase where those 65 and older can be vaccinated.

The health department received 975 doses of Pfizer on Wednesday and plans to continue its vaccinations.

Next week, though, may be completely filled with second shots.

The health department first received Moderna and are now using Pfizer. She said because of their different days for the second dose, there is crossover between the two.

“Some of our days for the second doses are really, really packed,” she said.

Gordon Lintz, president and CAO of Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare Systems, said the number of COVID-related patients at the hospital have ticked down over the last two days.

“Hopefully, we will not see an uptick,” he said.

He said Covenant Healthcare, the parent company for MHHS, has currently conducted 10,000 vaccinations across his healthcare system.

He told task force members that right now the hospital is in the process of getting approval from the state to share some of its vaccine with the health department.

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.