Spike in COVID-19 cases prompts renewed effort to offer vaccination events


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Numbers from the Tennessee Department of Health show a spike in new cases of COVID-19 we have not seen in months. Wednesday, state data showed more than 1,300 new cases. With a rise in cases, we’re also seeing more opportunities to get vaccinated in East Tennessee.

There are two upcoming vaccine clinics, organized by different groups, with a shared goal of removing barriers and getting more people vaccinated.

The first is this Saturday, July 24, at the Fish Pantry at 122 West Scott Avenue, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. It’s free and open to the public, though organizers hope to reach marginalized communities, the poor, and the homeless. Vivian Shipe, founder of I am the Voice of the Voiceless, and one of the clinic’s organizers said believes it’s important to remain proactive given the rise in new cases of the virus and the return to school and football season looming.

“We have all got to be able to understand that this has not gone away and until we get the shot, it’s not going to go away,” she said. “Anytime that we can get an opportunity to get before someone and help them help themselves, that’s what we’re going to do.”

Knoxville Area Transit is hosting a free COVID-19 vaccine event Monday, August 2nd, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. and Tuesday, August 3rd, from noon until 1 p.m. The event will take place at the Knoxville Station Transit Center Community Room, which is accessible by all KAT bus routes. The event is open to anyone. Those living in the downtown area can take the blue line trolley or park in the civic coliseum garage.

Belinda Woodiel-Brill, KAT Director of Planning and Public Information, acknowledged there is a greater urgency to get more people protected. “Since cases are kind of started to rise back up with the delta variant, we thought the timing of this was really good,” she said.

She hopes the convenience will lead to of their passengers getting the shot. “Our folks who are really busy and have a lot of commitments, and so to be able to offer just the one and you’re done was just something we all agreed on was super important to do.”

With the help of the Knox County Health Department, both clinics will offer the public the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. The “one and done” protection could prevent transportation from interfering with a second dose.

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