The COVID-19 vaccine is causing uncertainty among some McMinn Countians.
McMinn County Mayor John Gentry said during Monday night’s McMinn County Commission meeting that his office continues to receive an abundance of inquiries about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Quite honestly, it’s very difficult to give people an answer based on the supply that comes in sometimes just once a week,” he said.
Gentry noted that McMinn County’s two major television markets — Knoxville and Chattanooga — each operate independent health departments. The McMinn County Health Department is run by the State of Tennessee, as are most Tennessee county health departments.
“When those Chattanooga or Knoxville health departments make policy changes and those local news agencies report on it, people think that’s the way it is everywhere and it’s not,” said Gentry. “We’re not in the same phases.”
McMinn County is still in the 1a1 phase, which includes inpatient and high exposure health care workers, residents and staff of long-term care facilities, first responders and adults who cannot live independently, and the 1a2 phase, which includes outpatient health care workers with direct exposure to patients.
“And they’ve added everyone 75 and older,” noted Gentry.
“We do not have a date yet for when 65 and older (will be able to receive the vaccine). Best guess is probably a couple weeks.”
Gentry said administering the vaccine has been further complicated because the roughly 1,500 McMinn Countians who have already received the first dose are now ready for their second and final treatment. He noted that, over the next few weeks, county residents who have received the first dose will receive an invitation to visit the McMinn County Expo Center at Athens Regional Park for their second round of the vaccine.
“Folks will be contacted when it’s their time to show up,” said Gentry. “They’re going to try to start separating those folks that are getting the second vaccine from those folks getting the initial vaccine.”
Gentry encouraged those wishing to be vaccinated to call 866-442-5301.
“That just puts you on the waiting list,” he said.