MORRISTOWN, Tenn. (WATE)– The rise of COVID-19 cases isn’t sparing smaller counties. Hamblen County, with a population of around 65,000, is seeing another spike while the county’s vaccination rate is lower than the state average.
“We’re seeing an up tick in hospitalizations as well, and most of the hospitalizations are from folks that are not vaccinated,” Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain said.
Brittain said county officials, health experts and community members are working to change that.
He said the Hamblen County Health Department has an active outreach program. They host vaccination clinics once a week and, if invited, hold clinics at business offices and at events around the community.
Men of Vision, a new nonprofit in Morristown, is partnering with the Hamblen County Health Department to host a vaccination clinic at the Dockery-Senter Funeral Home Thursday.
Dennis Oxendine, the Vice President of Men of Vision, said they decided to host a clinic because they saw the vaccination rate was low, and the cases were spiking again.
“So we wanted to put something together to up those numbers. It’s very important that everybody gets vaccinated. I know right now everybody is skeptical with the lack of data there is of the side effects and long-term effects of the vaccination, but we felt it was part of our duty, if we are going to serve our community,” Oxendine said.
Oxendine said Men of Vision was founded two years ago, and it’s a nonprofit group of African American men trying to meet the needs of the Hamblen County community civically, economically and socially.
He said helping spread education and host a vaccination clinic falls right into their mission plan.
Oxendine believes the reason many residents haven’t gotten vaccinated is due to lack of information about the vaccines. He said anyone with questions should come to the vaccination clinic they are hosting at the funeral home, because there will be medical professionals on site to answer any questions.
He said the sooner people get vaccinated, the sooner everyone can go back to some normalcy.
“We can make sure that we can still fellowship together, we can worship together, work together, but most importantly I think that our kids, our kids need to go back to school, without having the parents having to worry about are they in a safe environment,” Oxendine said.
Brittain said he believes cases went back up because people were just COVID-19 weary. They were tired of being cooped up, wearing masks and staying away from friends and family.
He said with the cases rising again, it’s time to put guards back up a little again, and he said making an informed decision about the vaccine is one way to do that.
Brittain said he’s all about doing the research, talking with a medical professional, and then the county and other local health providers make the vaccines easily available once a decision is made.
“I don’t want to go back to where we were. You know, and I don’t know that we will, but I want to encourage our citizens to do everything they can to protect themselves and their families and again, do the research,” Brittain said.
The vaccination clinic hosted by the Men of Vision is Thursday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Dockery-Senter Funeral Home at 117 East Third South Street. The Pfizer vaccine will be made available.
According to the Tennessee Department of Health, Hamblen County continues to offer vaccines every Tuesday afternoon out of a kiosk in the main Health Star Building. Beginning in August, the health department will partner with HOLA to provide vaccinations at their English classes, and partner with Cherokee Health Systems to offer vaccinations at the International Food Festival on Saturday, Sept. 4.
The health department continues to offer COVID vaccinations on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.