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Maury Co. Health Dept. forced to turn people away after running out of COVID-19 vaccines

Posted at 9:19 PM, Jan 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-05 00:07:32-05

COLUMBIA, Tenn. (WTVF) — More than 126,000 Tennesseans have received their COVID-19 vaccinations, and yet some counties are running out of the shots almost as soon as they come in.

It happened in Maury County over the weekend. Within just a few hours, the health department ran out of vaccines.

Unlike bigger counties and health departments, Maury County received a small amount of just 700 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

"Saturday we went into phase 1a2. The first phase was your first responders, your nurses, your doctors, police, fire, those on the front line, said County Mayor Andy Ogles"

This past weekend, Ogles says it was time for the elderly population to get vaccinated. But as soon they lined up for the shots, they were all gone.

"We saw a huge demand with that 75 -plus cohort and we administered roughly 400 doses on Saturday," Ogles said.

Several people were turned away within hours. Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder says there needs to be more consistency on the state level when it comes to fighting COVID-19.

"Our most vulnerable of our population over the weekend standing out in the very cold weather for long periods of time, subjecting themselves to their own illnesses to get the vaccine only to be turned away after standing in line for several hours," said Molder.

Molder says Tennessee needs to be on the same page when it comes to masks, schools and vaccines. And he's asking for a more efficient vaccine roll-out plan.

"In Columbia for example, there were no drive-through vaccinations, there were no appointments.," said Molder. "And where as a county just north of us, there was an appointment process and they did it in a drive-through manner, much more streamlined approach."

A drive-through vaccination clinic is also on Mayor Ogles radar.

"We're also working on a drive-thru component that would try to have in place here in the next few days so people don't have to wait necessarily in the cold because we are in the dead of winter."

A spokesperson for the Tennessee Department of Health says:

"We have had a number of counties deplete their current supplies of vaccine, which is a good thing, as our goal is to administer COVID-19 vaccinations to as many Tennesseans as possible as quickly as possible. It’s important to remind your viewers that Saturday’s vaccination events will not be the only opportunities to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. Vaccine supplies remain limited at this time and availability of vaccines varies by county. Tennessee counties may progress through COVID-19 vaccination phases at different times, depending on supplies of COVID-19 vaccines. Our health departments will be sharing information on additional vaccination opportunities as we receive more vaccines."