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Ballad Health increases COVID-19 vaccine accessibility, opens Johnson City vaccination center

Friday, April 30, 2021

Ballad Health increases COVID-19 vaccine accessibility, opens Johnson City vaccination center

Ballad Health is enhancing its community vaccination centers (CVCs) with a new location in Johnson City that will help more members of the community access the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine.

Beginning Monday, May 3, the health system will transition its Elizabethton CVC to The Mall at Johnson City, opening a vaccine clinic in the former DSW storefront. The new CVC will be open from 2-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, and it will also be able to accommodate an increased number of walk-in patients.

“Regionally, COVID-19 cases are on the rise again – an increase largely driven by the United Kingdom (B117) variant, which is now the dominant strain across the United States,” said Jamie Swift, Ballad Health’s chief infection prevention officer. “We’re in a race, now more than ever, to vaccinate people faster than the virus spreads.

“This new CVC in Johnson City will be able to host more patients at a time, in a more convenient location – we’re really pleading with our community to take advantage of the opportunity to get vaccinated as soon as they can. The shots we’re providing have been proven to be safe and effective for nearly everyone, and they save lives.”

Patients who received their first shot in the Elizabethton CVC have already been scheduled for their second doses in the new Mall at Johnson City location. The CVC offers shots free of charge to everyone over the age of 16, and Swift also strongly encouraged younger adults to make their vaccine appointments a priority, especially in light of the B117 variant spread.

“The B117 virus strain is stronger and more easily spread than the original strain of COVID-19, and it’s especially dangerous for younger people to think they’re invincible to it,” Swift said. “Patients hospitalized at Ballad Health with COVID-19 are increasingly younger, which is partly due to the virulence of the B117 strain, and also because teenagers and young adults are more reluctant to receive the vaccine, as compared to our area seniors.”

In addition to the new Johnson City CVC, Ballad Health offers vaccine clinics in Kingsport and Abingdon and Norton, Virginia, all of which provide free vaccines to everyone older than 16. Walk-ins are welcome at all CVCs, and community members can schedule appointments by calling Ballad Health Nurse Connect at 833-822-5523. Online scheduling for eligible patients is also available on BalladHealth.org and the COVID-19 information page.

Community members must bring a photo ID when they arrive for their vaccine, and healthcare workers should bring their work ID badge. Second doses will be scheduled when patients check in, and everyone must be observed for at least 15 minutes after receiving the shot to monitor for any possible side effects. Sixteen- and 17-year olds must have a parent or guardian with them at all Ballad Health CVCs.

To date, Ballad Health has provided more than 42,000 first-dose and 39,000 second-dose vaccines to eligible people in the Appalachian Highlands. More than 250,000 people in the region are now fully vaccinated, accounting for 26% of the population.

Additionally, in continuing its ongoing fight against COVID-19, Ballad Health still maintains a strong presence in testing, with six drive-through testing sites in the region. Anyone who is experiencing symptoms and believes they might have been exposed to COVID-19 is advised to call Ballad Health Nurse Connect at 833-822-5523. Community members can also schedule COVID-19 testing online by visiting Ballad Health or through the Ballad Health mobile app. All Ballad Health testing sites offer same-day results.

Furthermore, Ballad Health recently announced its Center for Post-COVID Care, which creates an access point to comprehensive clinical care for patients who are struggling with post-COVID symptoms. Currently in its initial phase, the center operates as a virtual care model where a navigator is assigned to patients with long-term symptoms and coordinates between primary and specialty care providers across a range of services, including pulmonary rehabilitation, behavioral health, cardiovascular care and support groups.

To seek care with the Ballad Health Center for Post-COVID Care or to learn more, patients and referring providers can call 423-952-2183, visit BalladHealth.org or email postcovid@balladhealth.org.

COVID-19 news and updates will continue to be shared to the COVID-19 information page.

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