SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Tuesday marked the first day that people could drive up to Bristol Dragway and wait in line to receive their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
People still reported waiting four to five hours in line to be vaccinated. But by only offering second doses, the Sullivan County Regional Health Department was able to keep the site gates open throughout the day.
The health department has posted a schedule of when people should come for their second dose. Officials say people should follow the date listed on the card they were given during their first dose.
Emergency Management Coordinator Mark Moody says enough vaccine supply is reserved for people needing their second dose, and there’s no need to try and receive it early.
“We’re urging people to please try to return on the date that’s on your card. For Pfizer, it’s 21 days after your first vaccination. We have your vaccine. We’re not going to run out of it,” Moody said. “There’s minimal, minimal danger of running out of vaccine, for second doses.”
Meanwhile, supply for first vaccine doses remains limited. Moody said the state is still allotting around 1,170 of these doses per week to Sullivan County’s health department.
“This week we are scheduled to receive a little bit more, but we don’t know the exact number at this time,” he said.
Moody said second doses will be offered for the rest of the week at the Dragway. He expects to reopen the BMS site for first doses on Friday after more vaccine comes in from the state. This will require the Dragway to have two lines: one for cars receiving first doses, and another for second doses.
“That’ll be the real test of our process then,” said Moody.
The drive-through system will remain, and the health department is still not able to take appointments for the BMS site.
“Partly just due to the sheer volume, but also too, people just don’t keep appointments,” said Moody.
Currently, Sullivan County can only administer the vaccine to Tennessee residents 70 and older, and health care workers. Officials believe it could be another few weeks before they can open up to the 65 and older category due to vaccine supply.
The health department’s Facebook page says they cannot provide second doses to anyone that did not receive their first dose vaccine from the Sullivan County Regional Health Department. This includes the former Blountville health department site, and current Kingsport Civic Auditorium and Bristol Dragway sites.
As people recieved second Pfizer vaccine doses on Tuesday, medical staff were standing by in case of adverse reactions to the vaccine. Moody said side effects after second doses have varied.
“We’ve had some people that have run a fever, been nauseated, headache. Obviously, everybody ends up with a sore arm,” he said.
Harold and Fay Daniels got their second doses Tuesday after getting their first shots on January 5th. They only experienced slight soreness in their arms after their first dose.
“This one, so far, we haven’t had any symptoms or anything,” said Harold.
The Daniels said getting their second dose was big relief.
“I was telling my wife, I said, ‘well now in seven more days we’ll be completely protected from it. And in that case, we can go to Applebee’s,’” Harold said with a laugh.
Peggy Shell also received her second vaccine shot on Tuesday at the Dragway. She looks forward to going to church and being able to hug her children again.
“I had no reaction whatsoever to the first one. Even if I do, it’s worth it,” said Shell.