This story was updated at 5:54 p.m. on Friday, March 26, 2021, with more information.
All Hamilton County residents age 16 and up are eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccinations effective immediately, meaning all adults in Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia are now cleared to get vaccinated.
Hamilton County joins the surrounding region in expanding eligibility to everyone this week after the Hamilton County Health Department made the announcement via news release on Friday.
Though everyone age 16 and up is now eligible, both the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are only authorized for use in people age 18 and up, meaning 16- and 17-year-olds seeking vaccination will need to opt for the Pfizer shot for the time being.
Expanded eligibility applies to all providers in the county offering vaccines, not just the health department sites.
"The expansion of eligibility is an exciting step in immunization efforts across the state," Hamilton County Health Department Administrator Becky Barnes said in the release. "With the increase in vaccination supply, we are able to expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all residents 16 and up in Hamilton County, depending on the vaccine manufacturer. We hope to see more residents take advantage of this hopeful opportunity."
The expansion comes ahead of both the federal and state goals for expanded eligibility and marks a milestone in the local vaccination efforts that were initially hampered by limited supply.
People can visit the website vaccinefinder.org to search for locations offering vaccines throughout the region and to book an appointment.
The Hamilton County Health Department has also added new first dose and second dose Pfizer appointments to its schedule.
First Dose Appointments
> March 31 at Tennessee Riverpark
> March 31 and April 1 at CARTA Bus Barn
Second Dose Appointments
> March 31, April 1 and 5 at Enterprise South Nature Park
> April 1 and 5 at Tennessee Riverpark
> April 5 at CARTA Bus Barn
People who live or work in Hamilton County are encouraged to visit vaccine.hamiltontn.gov to make an appointment online. Those who do not have access to the internet can call the appointment call center to make an appointment over the phone:
First dose appointments: 423-209-5398
Second dose appointments: 423-209-5399
Spanish appointment line: 423-209-5384
All three call center lines are open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m-4 p.m. Due to high call volume, callers may experience a busy signal and need to hang up and call back.
The Health Department's general COVID-19 hotline 423-209-8383 is available to connect people to vaccine and testing resources. Hours are Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Bilingual representatives are available.
Important Information to know prior to appointment at the Hamilton County Health Department sites:
> Do not arrive more than 15 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment.
> Wear appropriate clothing to get a shot in upper arm.
> Bring proof of Hamilton County residency or employment
> Bring proof of age (16 and up for Pfizer and 18 and up for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson).
> Minors (16 and 17 years of age) must have a parent/guardian with them to give consent at the time of vaccination.
> Print and complete the COVID-19 Vaccine Encounter form for both first and second dose appointments, which is available on the health department's website. Forms are available on-site, but bringing a completed form to the vaccination site will accelerate the process.
> Be prepared to wait 20 minutes after shot.
> Be prepared for the entire process to take an hour or more.
> When patients receive their first dose with the Health Department, they will receive a Vaccination Record Card with the following important information: the vaccine manufacturer, the date the first dose of vaccine was given and the date the second vaccine dose is due (if Pfizer or Moderna). This date is not an appointment. Patient must schedule a second dose appointment.
Stay up to date on new vaccine appointment information by following the health department via its email newsletter and social media accounts.
Transportation is available to the vaccination site. Call 423-209-8383 to schedule a ride.
Contact Elizabeth Fite at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @ecfite.