KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — Update (3 p.m.):
Within two hours of announcing new COVID-19 vaccine appointments, the Knox County Health Department said it has already booked all of its 225 available vaccine appointment spots for the week of January 4.
"We understand it's frustrating," KCHD Director Dr. Martha Buchanan told reporters on Saturday. "I would ask for patience. We're doing the best we can with this vaccine and rolling it out."
One of the biggest challenges KCHD faces with scheduling new appointments and opportunities is figuring out how many vaccines they will receive and how often.
Spanish version: Condado de Knox se queda sin citas para vacuna del COVID-19
"We'll have to announce that as we know when we have access," Buchanan said. "What we don't want to do is announce something and plan something and then not have a vaccine to give."
On Monday, a spokesperson for KCHD told 10News they "are still working through those details and will make that available once it is confirmed."
Right now, only people in Phase 1a1, Phase 1a2, and seniors 75+ are eligible for the vaccine in Knox County. However, educators could soon be added to the list of eligibility under Phase 1b.
"Those decisions are made based on the uptake. We've scheduled our first responders and those all of those appointments didn't fill up, so then we reached out to the Phase 1a2 group," Buchanan said. "Our goal is to not waste any vaccine... If we have events and we don't see people coming to get vaccinated, we're going to open it up even more."
According to the age-based vaccination strategy on the statewide plan, KCHD said those 65 and older are able to receive vaccines beginning in February/March.
Following a busy vaccine clinic over the weekend, the Knox County Health Department will offer appointments for residents age 75 and up this week to receive their first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
People who qualify should call KCHD's public information line at (865) 215-5555 to schedule an appointment for Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday the week of January 4 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The walk-up appointments will be held at KCHD's main location at 140 Dameron Avenue. People should bring a copy of their ID to the appointment.
KCHD said people making appointments should be patient because the public information line is nearly overloaded with calls. The department expects the spots will fill up quickly. Additional vaccination opportunities will be announced next week as more vaccines are received.
The department said people should also keep in regular contact with their healthcare providers and pharmacy for opportunities to receive one of the two currently-approved vaccines.
"It’s important to remember that KCHD is just one of many providers who will eventually help make the vaccine more widely available in the community," KCHD said. "Much like COVID-19 testing at the beginning of the pandemic, it took time for it to be widely available. The best and most effective testing and vaccination strategy involve multiple distribution points in the market."
If you live outside Knox County, you should also contact the Tennessee Department of Health at 865-549-5343 to register for an appointment, and you will be notified of your appointment date, time, and location when their county moves into the phase of the vaccination plan in which they fit.
Several counties, including Cumberland, Fentress, and Hancock, have reported they are currently out of vaccines at the moment due to high demand and low supply.