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County still working on installation of automated vaccination reservation system

Knox County has a $92,500 contract with Luminare Inc. of Houston.

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Knox County is still working on the details of a planned, streamlined vaccination reservation system and can't say exactly when it will come online, an official said Thursday.

Charity Menefee, director of communicable and environmental disease for the Knox County Health Department, said the department would advise the public when it's ready as soon as possible.

   

"We're just not quite there yet," Menefee said.

The department has been working for weeks on the new software-based process with a vendor. It's seen as a way to automate many of the tasks required for the public to secure a COVID-19 vaccination spot. 

The county signed a contract with Luminare Inc. of Texas late last month. The six-month agreement was for $92,250, records show. It can be renewed.

Knox County would be among the first in Tennessee to use Luminare's system.

In the meantime, the county will announce when more vaccination opportunities arise. There's high demand for limited supply. Slots fill quickly when the county announces available vaccination times.

The state thinks it'll be an increase in February in the supply that's doled out weekly.

Menefee said other community sources for the vaccine should be coming soon. She declined to be specific, but the Biden administration has announced a deal to provide vaccine doses for pharmacies to hand out.

The state cleared the way this week for counties to vaccinate those age 70 and older, among other groups, an expansion from the previous pool of people age 75 and older. 

Menefee said the department is looking at possibly using an old, empty Food City in North Knoxville as a mass vaccination site.

Health officials would like to have a dedicated spot that would be accessible to everyone. It's still in progress, she said.

"We're hoping that will work and we'll be able to be in there in the future," she said.

County figures show 490 people have now died from COVID-19 complications. Current active cases in the county are 2,302, and 78 residents are in the hospital fighting virus effects.

Case numbers have been trending down in recent days.