Nashville officials to push vaccine waiting list in immigrant communities

    Epidemiologist Leslie Waller, from the Nashville Board of Health, speaks at a recent COVID-19 briefing. (Photo: Nashville.gov)
    Epidemiologist Leslie Waller, from the Nashville Board of Health, speaks at a recent COVID-19 briefing. (Photo: Nashville.gov)

    Metro Nashville officials may soon be traveling to reach and add qualifying members from hard-hit communities onto the COVID vaccine waiting list

    At Fabian Bedne’s weekly Spanish-speaking press conference, guest speaker Leslie Waller, epidemiologist with the Metro Health Department,  announced that they will now begin signing up people for the COVID vaccine waiting list at designated sites. Bedne serves on the staff of Mayor John Cooper. 

    “Our testing team, when they have some time, they’re going to go out to community sites and help people sign up on the waitlist,” said Waller. 

    Although anyone can sign up to the waiting list, vaccine distribution will still be based on vaccine phases. Tennessee is currently in vaccine phase 1a, where priority falls to healthcare workers, people over the age of 18 with disabilities, first responders, primary health care workers and people 75 or older, among others. But distribution has been shaky due to high demand and low availability. 

    Metro officials have acknowledged disparities in vaccine distribution to minority communities, with less than 1,000 out of 80,000 vaccines being given to Latinos.

    Metro officials reported disparities in Black communities as well due to a variety of reasons, such as distrust of medical processes and access. Identification beyond a name and number is not required in order to avoid further obstacles, but participants will need to be contacted for the second dose of the vaccine. 

    We’re trying to be as delicate as possible because we know that this is an issue,” said Waller. 

    The standby list, which is separate from the wait list, is open to everyone regardless of the vaccine phase they fall in, and allows a person the chance to be contacted at the end of the day for the leftover vaccine. Participants will have to reach the vaccination site within 30 minutes. Those who are not selected will need to sign up each day since the list is wiped at the close of business hours and can email [email protected]

    “This is one way that we are ensuring that we don’t waste any doses at the end of the day,” said Waller.

    On Monday, the health department reported via Twitter two names were randomly drawn that day from a list of 11,000.

    In other news, Metro Health announced that starting Saturday, a city vaccine clinic will open at the Music City Center for eligible persons in phases 1a1 and 1a2. Vaccines will continue to be given by appointment only.

    Metro officials are currently working on making the waiting list website available in other languages beyond English, but Spanish-speakers can contact Conexión Americas to receive information on the COVID vaccine at 615-326-9986.