Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital and area drug stores are now giving the COVID-19 vaccines to eligible residents, according to a news release from Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto. And state health officials say they are receiving a modest increase in their weekly vaccine allocation, up from an average of 80,000 doses to about 93,000 for the coming week.
“Our local hospital and several local pharmacies have now been approved to help distribute the vaccine to those 75 and older,” the Friday release said. “These local pharmacies currently include: Gibbs Pharmacy, Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital, Del Mar Medical, Neighborhood Health and Pharmscript of TN.”
The county said those eligible to receive the vaccine can call one of the above providers to schedule an appointment or continue to call 866-442-5301 to be put on a health department waiting list.
Hutto’s office announced it would be “happy to assist those with difficulties in scheduling an appointment over the phone or online.” The phone number is 615-444-1383.
On Thursday, the state Department of Health confirmed the increase in doses after coming up short of the 90,000 doses weekly that federal Operation Warp Speed had promised after the state had received its initial allotments.
Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey said the state did not see a boost in doses as promised by federal officials and signaled by vaccine manufacturers.
It also didn’t help that federal officials discussed a reserve of second doses that ended up being exhausted, Piercey has said.
Tennessee has seen 5.7% of its population receive one or more COVID-19 vaccine doses so far, ranking 40th among states, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The planned bump in doses comes as state health officials roll out more than 100 new vaccination sites in 51 counties, with a focus on rural and underserved areas. They include 24 federally qualified health centers, rural health clinics and community health centers, 64 local pharmacies and 20 chain pharmacies. Twenty of the locations, for example, are at Walmart stores.
Meanwhile, Gov. Bill Lee announced that he was lifting all restrictions on attending school sporting events because case counts and hospitalizations had dropped over the past few weeks.
The Republican had previously signed an executive order requiring school districts to comply with social distancing rules set by the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association, which had prohibited large crowds at sporting events. That executive order was set to expire Feb. 27, but will now be lifted on Monday.
“When case counts were at their highest, we placed temporary, targeted restrictions on indoor school sporting events,” Lee said in a video message. “The data now reflects rapidly falling numbers and because of that data, we are ending the recent additional restrictions around who can participate in or attend indoor school sporting events.”
Also on Thursday, Nashville’s Metro Health Department announced that the Music City Center will become a new COVID-19 vaccination site starting Saturday. The health department will transitions its current COVID vaccine clinics to the downtown center to allow for covered parking and more room for social distancing.
Vaccinations are by appointment only.