The distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine in Williamson County is facing some challenges, including patients who are scheduled to receive the vaccine not showing up to their appointments.
Williamson County Health Director Cathy Montgomery spoke about the issue and generally about the county’s COVID-19 testing, vaccine and public health response during Monday night’s Williamson County Commission meeting.
Montgomery said that some people are applying for multiple time slots across multiple days for both first or second doses, something that is slowing down the process of administering the vaccine.
“Sometimes there are missed opportunities where we might miss identifying them on a list as well as it’s a missed opportunity for individuals to be able to sign up to get a COVID vaccine,” Montgomery said. “We are having in addition to that about 20 to 30 no-shows a day.”
“The most frustrating part of that is that we’ve already pulled vaccines from freezer to cooler to room temperature to get it ready for those people to come through to get their vaccination based on their scheduled appointment,” Montgomery said.
Montgomery added that some people who are on the waitlist have already received vaccines through other agencies such as hospitals, but their names have remained on the waitlist.
Despite the daily no-shows, Montgomery said that the county has not wasted a single dose.
The county is now working to clean up the waitlist, first by surveying around 2,000 people on the waitlist, about half of whom Montgomery said asked to be taken off the list due to having already received a vaccine elsewhere.
The county is also implementing a new scheduling system, which they are currently training to use. While the waitlist is utilized by each county or metro health department, the system is a state-run system.
“It has a lot of features that will definitely make improvements at least for registration and our staff,” although Montgomery added that the general population may see some additional complications going through the process. Exactly what those new challenges will be is unclear.
The county is vaccinating patients six days a week, including holidays, and as previously reported, at least 10 percent of Williamson County residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The county has a distribution goal of 700 doses on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and a goal of 400 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, efforts that Montgomery said have been successful but also tough on staff who are working long hours.
“We’re just really fortunate to have our temporary staff, our Medical Reserve Corps volunteers, and most recently adding our paramedics from a lot of different agencies,” Montgomery said. “That’s in addition to our Health Department team and of course I can’t fail to mention our National Guard that are out there everyday helping us.”
Williamson County Director of Emergency Management Todd Horton added that the county’s COVID-19 public information line received more than 3,000 calls last week.
“The center remains extremely busy and I’m grateful, as Cathy is, for all of the help and support we have been given,” Horton said, from both county, city and town and state partners.
February's Williamson County Commission meeting can be viewed in full below.