Updated Wednesday, Jan. 13.
Tennessee has published an interactive map with links to signup pages for each county, which have changed since this post was originally published. The map also shows which phase of distribution each county is in.
Tennessee residents over 75 are now eligible to get the COVID vaccine. But how and where — even if it’s available — depends very much on where you live.
Listener Josh Murray left us a voicemail this week.
“I’m calling you because I don’t have anyone else to call,” he said. He hadn’t heard back from the state health department, and local health departments have been swamped with inquiries just like his. He wants to know how to get his 87-year-old grandmother vaccinated.
The answer, as of Tuesday, Jan. 8:
As of Wednesday, Davidson County has opened up vaccination based simply on age. Both Nashville and Memphis have more health care workers and first responders to get through than other counties, so they are about a week behind the rest of the state.
Now every county has moved on to seniors, though a new interactive map from the Tennessee Department of Health does not yet reflect that. Each is making its own strategy to reach all its elderly residents:
- Davidson County is using a RedCap form to take in signups for appointments, which gathers demographic data. Seniors can also call 615-862-7777 to schedule a vaccination, which will be done on Saturdays and Sundays.
- Rutherford County has opened up the old State Farm operations center and is using Signup Genius to schedule groups every 15 minutes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
- Sumner County is using a similar schedule and vaccinating groups at Volunteer State Community College.
- So is Wilson County, at College Hills Church of Christ.
- Williamson County has already moved from appointment signups to a general priority list where seniors can put their names in to be assigned a time.
- Williamson is also using Survey Monkey to create a text alert system for when vaccine becomes available for other age and risk groups.
- Putnam County is using Survey 123 to schedule appointments and offering vaccines every weekday, while supplies last.
- Montgomery County is asking seniors to call 931-648-5747 and schedule an appointment.
“It is pretty disparate right now,” says Dr. Lisa Piercey, who leads the state health department. “It’s working on the local level, but some of it is pretty rudimentary. I’ll leave it at that.”
The state is working on a centralized scheduling system, but that’s still a few months out.
Chattanooga is doing max vaccinations each weekday but has had to limit people by alphabet (A-K on one day, L-Z the next) to reduce demand at the Riverpark site. Jackson-Madison County, in West Tennessee, has scheduled a come-one-come-all event for seniors on Thursday at the city fairgrounds. But it’s only open to Madison County residents.
Jackson has also developed what Piercey says may become a “best practice” for using any leftover vaccines at the end of the day: The local health department asks that any residents — no matter their age or occupation — signup for a call to race down to the health department within 30 minutes to use any doses that might go to waste. Most packages — whether the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine — must be used up within six hours.
Piercey says her own aunt and uncle who are in their 60s got a call at 8 p.m. and made it in time to use remaining doses.