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Hurt provides an update on vaccinations

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR STAFF
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
On Monday, Ballad Health announced that to date there have been a total of 16,914 COVID-19 vaccinations given in its 21-county service area which encompasses Carter County as well.

There have also been 4,574 total second doses of the vaccine administered.

During the recent Health and Welfare Committee meeting, Caroline Hurt, Director of the Carter County and Johnson County Health Departments, gave an update to commissioners about the progress of COVID immunizations in Carter County.

Hurt informed the committee that the health department is still working through their Phase 1A1s and have been reaching out to the Phase 1A2s along with funeral and mortuary workers.

She also said that there has been a 50-50 split between those from 75 and above to Phase 1B.

Even though the health department is moving as quickly as possible to get the doses out, it hasn’t come without challenges.

“One of the challenges has been working with quick turnaround notices,” Hurt advised the committee. “The movement has been quick for low volume shipments.

“With Operation Warp Speed, the vaccines are received on Sunday night at the state level. The state then turns around and allocates to the counties in the state.

“By the time we know, we don’t know when the shipment is going to arrive.”

Hurt admitted that there are a lot of moving parts.

“When the vaccine arrives, there is a two-hour thaw time for the vials,” Hurt added. “Typically there are 10 doses per vial but we have been able to get 11 out of some.

“Some people are being brought in that won’t be able to receive a vaccination.”

The director said that there are high hopes that a new statewide system called Sign-Up Genius will help those wanting to be vaccinated to request an appointment.

Individuals will be able to go to the link and make an appointment by utilizing an appointment slot. Hurt added that getting the link out to everyone will be a big help in making sure people can get registered for an appointment time.

Chairman of the Health and Welfare Committee, Dr. Robert Acuff, stated that he had been asked by some if there were any better ways than to call the health department for those 75 and above to register as often they have called the phone number provided only to be unable to get through to make an appointment.

Hurt went on to say, “There is no better way because it helps us to know how to distribute out appointment spots. The list is very long and growing every day. We have a limited vaccine supply.

“We are keeping in calls in order from when the call was made.”

Dr. Acuff responded to Hurt by saying, “We are supporting you, and if you need anything just ask.”

Hurt concluded by saying that the amounts of vaccines are so small that her staff can work through it at the health department.