Hamilton County announces opening of appointment system to administer second doses of COVID-19 vaccines

Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / University of Tennessee at Chattanooga nursing student Lauren Buffington carries a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine near the Hubert Fry Center at the Tennessee Riverpark on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020 in Chattanooga, Tenn. The Hamilton County Health Department continued distributing vaccines following the State of Tennesseeճ response plan at their Vaccination Drive-Thru Point of Dispensing.

People who need their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will be able to make an appointment to receive it beginning Friday, according to a news release from the Hamilton County Health Department.

Those who received their first dose of a vaccine are encouraged to register for the second dose online at http://health.hamiltontn.org/AllServices/Coronavirus(COVID-19)/Vaccine.aspx for the fastest processing. The online appointment system is available 24 hours a day, every day of the week, and will be open until all available appointments are filled.

People without internet access or those who need special assistance can make their appointment through the Hamilton County Office of Emergency Management at 423-209-5399. The call center will be open Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m.- 2 p.m. or until all available appointments are filled. High call volume is expected, so callers may experience a busy signal and need to continue to call back. Once appointments have been filled, the caller will hear a recording that states "the call center is closed and appointments have been filled."

When scheduling appointments, patients will need information from the vaccination record card they received at the time of their first dose, which contains information about the vaccine manufacturer (either Moderna or Pfizer), the date the first dose was given and the date the second dose is due. They should make sure that if their first dose was the Moderna vaccine, their second dose is also Moderna. Likewise, if their first dose was the Pfizer vaccine, their second dose must also be Pfizer.

Patients should also make sure they choose a day that matches their vaccine brand and a date that is either on or after the return date given on the card. Patients who have lost their vaccination record card will have to make their appointment by calling 423-209-5399.

The second dose of the Moderna vaccine should be received 28 days after the first dose or later and the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine should be received 21 days after first dose or later, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The health department claims that the appointment system will allow second doses to be planned administered more efficiently as local demand for vaccines has caused long lines in the county and other areas of the state. The department has run out of doses within hours since expanding eligibility to people aged 75 or older. On Jan. 6, the department closed the line to its drive-thru site off Amnicola Highway just after 6 a.m., three hours before vaccinations began for the approximately 1,000 doses available that day.

Health officials are also continuing to urge patience as vaccines are distributed.

"There are vaccine supplies and appointments for everyone who received their first dose from the Health Department," Hamilton County Health Department Administrator Becky Barnes said in the release. "If you got your first dose from us, be assured that we have the second dose allocated for you."

What to know prior to your appointment

* Bring your vaccination record card and identification with you

* Do not arrive more than 15 minutes prior to the scheduled appointment

* Wear appropriate clothing to get a shot in the upper arm

* Be prepared to wait 20 minutes after the shot

* Bring proof of Hamilton County residency (if applicable)

* Bring proof of Hamilton County employment (if applicable)

* Bring proof of age (if applicable)

* Be prepared for the entire process to take an hour or more

Schedule of second dose vaccination points of distribution (PODs):

* January 20 – Moderna

* January 22 – Moderna

* January 24 – Moderna

* January 26 – Moderna

* January 28 – Moderna

* January 29 – Moderna

*January 21 – Pfizer

* January 23 – Pfizer

The PODs are located at one of the following locations, which will be noted in the registration process:

* Riverpark Hubert Fry Center - 4301 Amnicola Hwy, Chattanooga, TN 37406

* CARTA Bus Barn - 1617 Wilcox Blvd, Chattanooga, TN 37406