Five hours Tuesday after Blount Memorial Hospital made COVID-19 vaccination appointments available for the week of April 5, more than 500 people had booked their shots.
April 5 marks the first day that all Tennesseans ages 16 and older are eligible for a COVID vaccine, according to the Tennessee Department of Health’s vaccination plan.
Blount Memorial is the first vaccine provider in the county to open appointments for that week, and people did not hesitate to claim their spots.
“We’re very excited about getting vaccine in people,” Blount Memorial Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Harold Naramore said. “This is going really well. We just need to keep doing it.”
BMH Director of Marketing Jennie Bounds said the hospital will have limited Moderna, Pfizer-BioNtech and Johnson & Johnson doses available for the week of April 5. The initial people signing up for an appointment have the choice between the three.
Vaccines will be administered either at Blount Memorial’s main campus on East Lamar Alexander Parkway or at its satellite clinic, East Tennessee Medical Group on Joule Street in Alcoa.
While vaccine appointments are going quickly, Bounds said people should continue to check the website, even if they find all slots booked.
“We are seeing that individuals who may be on multiple waiting lists who end up receiving vaccine elsewhere are canceling if they’re able to be vaccinated sooner than their scheduled appointment,” she said.
“Don’t be discouraged if you see no available appointments. Chances are, if you give it some time, there’ll be an opening again soon.”
Visit blountmemorial.org/covid-19_vaccine.php to register.
Naramore told the hospital’s board of directors on Tuesday that Blount Memorial had administered 16,366 doses of COVID-19 vaccines. More than 44,600 doses in all have been administered to Blount Countians — meaning BMH has inoculated roughly 37% of Blount residents who have received a shot.
BMH originally required vaccine recipients to be residents of Blount County or have a primary care physician belonging to Blount Memorial Physicians Group; however, the hospital lifted those restrictions on Tuesday.
Now, anyone deemed eligible by the state can receive a shot at Blount Memorial.
“The key, as I’ve said many, many times, is vaccines,” Naramore said. “Vaccines are becoming plentiful. People really need to take advantage of that.”