January 17, 2021

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Chattanooga COVID-19 vaccine administrators gave doses to close contacts hours after qualified citizens were turned away – WBIR.com

2 min read

“We have connections,” exclaimed one driver when asked how he was able to get a vaccine.

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Hamilton County officials say miscalculations led to late-evening vaccinations in the Tennessee Riverpark in Chattanooga on New Year’s Eve, long after people were turned away and told there were no more vaccines available.

There was a huge turnout, with long lines of cars waiting to access the park and many people being turned away.

According to WRCB, they acted on a tip and returned to Riverpark after dark to find cars leaving the property. The people in those vehicles told WRCB family members or friends who were helping to administer the vaccines called to tell them there were extra doses and they should come to receive a dose.

“We have connections,” exclaimed one driver when asked how he was able to get a vaccine. The driver told WRCB all seven people in the vehicle received a vaccination. It’s not clear if those individuals met the CDC or the Health Department’s criteria to receive this round of available vaccines.

“At the end of the day we had more vaccine doses than we had anticipated,” said Hamilton County Health Department Administrator Becky Barnes, in a written statement to WRCB. “Because they had been thawed and prepared they had to be given by the end of the day. Our intent is to never waste any doses and we did not waste any Thursday.”

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger told WRCB that when officials realized they had vials left to be used at the end of the day, staff members “called people who were known to have requested the vaccine, or who had been unable to be vaccinated at a previously scheduled time. They wanted to make sure that none of it would go to waste.”

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