Officials from Rutherford County Health Department (RCHD) say Monday’s relocation of COVID-19 testing and vaccinations to the State Farm Operations Center located on Memorial Boulevard were successful.
“We vaccinated a total of 441 people Monday and 374 Wednesday,” said Interim Director LaShan Dixon. “We are grateful to our ‘good neighbors’ at State Farm for allowing us use of this facility and thankful to Mayor Ketron to working with the State Farm team to make this happen.”
RCHD is an extension of the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) and is following the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan. The county is currently administering vaccines to the 1a1 and 1a2 populations as well as those who are 75 years of age or older. Detailed information about phases can be accessed at: https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/health/documents/cedep/novel-coronavirus/COVID-19_Vaccination_Plan.pdf.
TDH Commissioner Lisa Piercy, MD, MBA, FAAP, states, “COVID-19 vaccines remain limited at this time, and Tennessee’s allocation plan prioritizes those most at risk of illness and death from COVID-19. The plan also prioritizes critical infrastructure workers who have direct public exposure or work in environments posing a higher risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.”
To receive a vaccination in Rutherford County, you MUST have an appointment. Please be advised the limited amount of vaccine has a direct impact on appointment availability.
RCHD rolled out its state-issued sign-up link Monday and appointments quickly filled up, leaving several people frustrated. RCHD employees are also maintaining a rather lengthy waiting list. “Persons who called the health department and were added to the waiting list will be assessed for eligibility and contacted for appointment based on eligibility and placement on that list,” said Dixon. There have also been glitches in the system which make it appear as if there are available appointments. “We are working with the state to remedy this issue.”
Dixon addressed the health department’s extreme call volume, “We are still conducting normal [non-COVID] operations at the health department, while continuing to answer COVID-19 testing and vaccine inquiries and requests. We ask that callers please be patient with our staff.”
She also mentioned the state’s new hotline for eligible persons to be placed on a COVID-19 vaccination priority list. The number to call is 866-442-5301. Dixon hopes this will help reduce the local call volume. Eligible persons may also visit: https://www.tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov/covid-19-vaccine-information/getting-a-covid-19-vaccine-information.html to be placed on the list. If you are unsure if you are eligible, Governor Bill Lee announced a new eligibility tool this week that can be accessed by visiting: https://covid19.tn.gov/stay-informed/blogs/gov-lee-announces-new-covid-19-vaccine-eligibility-tool/.
“We know there have also been a lot of questions concerning second doses,” said Dixon. Please be assured that if you received your first dose, the Department of Health will be contacting you. If you did not sign up on Sign Up Genius, you will receive a phone call from the Department of Health. It’s imperative that you answer that call, even if you don’t recognize the number. If you signed up for your initial dose through Sign Up Genius and provided your email address, that is how you can expect to be contacted, so keep watch on your email for notification about the second dose.”
Chris Clark, Public Safety Director with Rutherford County Emergency Management Agency states, “Rutherford County, based on our population and vaccine allocation, may move through the phases of the vaccination plan at a different rate than other counties. We will continue to update the public through various communications channels as we move through the phases.” Clark mentions the county’s website rutherfordcountytn.gov/COVID19 and RCHD’s website health.rutherfordcountytn.gov as the primary locations for updates as well as the county’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.
“The important thing to remember is that our local health department and emergency managers are working closely with the TDH to keep our public as informed as possible,” said Clark. “As more vaccine becomes available, we will use other forms of communication to reach our eligible populations.”
For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, Tennessee’s plan, a list of frequently asked questions or other resources, please visit: https://covid19.tn.gov/.