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Ballad ramping up vaccination efforts in region

By Richard Rourk

Ballad Health began providing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccinations at their community vaccination centers (CVCs) in Tennessee to anyone 16 or older on March 24.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced on Monday that all Tennessee adults will be eligible to receive vaccinations by no later than April 5. Subsequently, the Sullivan County Health Department approved the expansion of eligibility for the vaccine to anyone 16 and older. Other regional health departments are in the process of approving the expansion.

People do not need to be a resident of Tennessee to receive the vaccination at the Ballad Health CVCs in Kingsport or Elizabethton; anyone is welcome.

To make an appointment for a vaccination, call Ballad Health Nurse Connect at (833) 822-5523 (833-8-BALLAD).

“I am proud that we are able to work in conjunction with our local health departments and open up vaccine eligibility to the greater population so any adult who wants to receive the COVID-19 vaccine can do so,” said Ballad Health COO Eric Deaton. “We hope this will help us drive down cases in the region as more and more of our community reaches full immunity.”

According to Ballad Health Chief Infection Prevention Officer Jamie Swift, opening up vaccinations to the general public is critical right now.

“The positive rate and the number of COVID cases in our region have increased over the last two weeks, and Ballad Health’s inpatient COVID-19 census is nearing 100 after it was below 70 just two weeks ago,” Swift said. “So now is the time to do this; now is the time to get your vaccine.”

East Tennessee CVCs:

• The Kingsport Community Vaccination Center is located at 2000 Brookside Drive and will be open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The Elizabethton Community Vaccination Center is located at 1509 W. Elk Avenue and will be open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Both Ballad Health CVCs in Tennessee will only offer the Pfizer vaccine, which is the only one currently approved for use by 16- and 17-year-olds.

Calling Nurse Connect to make an appointment is recommended, but people can also visit Ballad Health or the COVID-19 page to schedule online.

“Ballad Health has led the way in COVID-19 testing and in offering vaccinations for each approved phase,” Deaton said. “And now we’re glad to be among the first to offer vaccinations to the general public.”

Ballad Health opened its community vaccination centers in Kingsport and Elizabethton in Tennessee, and in Norton and Abingdon in Virginia, on Saturday, March 27, for all community members who meet previously set state guidelines. The health system also added a one-day vaccine site in Greeneville on March 27 to serve the greater population.

Appointments are not required and walk-ins are welcome, but Ballad Health will only have a limited supply of vaccines available at each site.

“As vaccine supply becomes more abundant, we’re taking steps to make the vaccine more available and accessible,” Swift said. “We have typically done vaccine appointments from Monday through Friday at our CVCs, but our Super Saturday event will allow us to better meet the needs of even more community members.”

Anyone who is experiencing symptoms and believes they might have been exposed to COVID-19 is advised to call Ballad Health Nurse Connect at (833) 822-5523.

COVID-19 news and updates will continue to be shared on the Ballad Health COVID-19 Information page.