The McMinn County Health Department is currently distributing COVID-19 vaccinations to people who are age 75 and older.

According to McMinn County Mayor John Gentry, everyone can keep up to date on the latest COVID information by going to and selecting the area they live in.

“That is kind of a central clearing house for all things COVID-related,” Gentry said. “It is a great dashboard for any updates on any county.”

The website offers information from the current number of cases across the state to the current vaccination plans.

“They are adding a link to the different phases of the plan that each county is in,” he noted. “We have already experienced that this plan is moving quicker than the earlier projections and one of the different reasons behind that is because of the uptake of those who are actually taking it.”

The first phase of vaccinations were for first responders, assisted living professionals and healthcare workers.

“If a smaller percentage of those people take it than what was projected then they will move on to the next phase quicker,” Gentry said. “You may have, statewide, 400,000 are eligible for phase 1a1 but only 30,000 take it, they will wait a week or two and if those numbers don’t increase then they will move on to the next phase and start getting those people vaccinated.”

The current progression of the vaccinations is enabling persons who are 75 or older to obtain vaccinations.

“I don’t know if that was initially in the plan this early but it is a good thing that they are allowing this age group to participate in the vaccinations now,” he expressed. “Saturday they did an all-day vaccination event and the reception has been overwhelming.”

He noted that one of the current issues people are facing is trying to contact the health department. Calling the health department is the way to set up an appointment for a vaccination.

“People may be thinking that the health department’s phones are down but they are not,” Gentry said. “They have six phones out there and it is absolutely staying busy. So please be patient and continue to call until you are able to reach someone ... They are really the front line right now and I appreciate the work they are doing.”

The turnout for Saturday’s vaccinations was around 500 people who received vaccinations.

The health department is still performing COVID tests as well as giving vaccinations.

“Right now they are doing what they call a ‘self test’ which is self administered but you have to go through some training and they have to spend a little time with you,” he noted.

All COVID vaccination appointments are made through phone call with the McMinn County Health Department.

“This is not an easy vaccine ... It is a two part vaccine and they have to make sure they are keeping up with your records, the type of vaccine you get, and when your last vaccination was,” Gentry noted. “As far as side effects go, the health department stated they have seen injection site tenderness and had some reports of chills, but nothing really adverse so they have been really pleased with the reactions. The general public can receive their vaccinations from the health department while hospitals are currently only supplying vaccines to their staff, but as of now we know a little over 1,000 people have received vaccinations from the health department.”

Email shane.duncan@

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