Covenant has given 50K Covid shots

Jay FitzOur Town Health

After an April campaign to provide 10,000 Covid-19 vaccinations in 10 days, and more than 200 vaccine clinics held for employees, healthcare workers and the public, Covenant Health has administered 50,000+ vaccinations in Knoxville and surrounding communities. The milestone signifies a growing number of East Tennesseans who are better protected from Covid-19.

In January, Covenant Health launched drive-through clinics at the health system’s Fort Sanders West campus.

“People have appreciated not having to get out of their cars,” said Debbi Honey, RN, Covenant Health’s chief nursing officer and leader of the health system’s vaccine initiative. She says the teams administering the vaccinations at the drive-through clinic have received overwhelming gratitude from recipients, especially during the time when vaccines were not yet readily available in the community.

Michael Thompson receives his vaccination at Fort Sanders West

“We saw many folks who had family members drive them, and between the person getting and giving the vaccine, let me tell you, there were tears on both sides,” Honey says. “Not a dose is going to waste.”

Honey says the staff has really enjoyed helping the community and even keeps doggy treats on hand at the drive-through clinics for those who have their dogs in the car.

Aaron Browne, support services and pharmacy sourcing program manager for Covenant Health, keeps track of staff, supplies and volunteers needed to make each drive-through clinic run smoothly. As a result of experience and process improvements that have been implemented since earlier clinics, the capacity has increased from giving 500 doses per day, three days a week to giving about 1,000 doses per day, five days a week.

“Our goal is to protect the community and vaccinate as many people as we can,” Browne says, adding that Covenant Health also has provided vaccines for local education institutions and a local business. Vaccinations also have also been available for the public at Covenant Medical Group’s physician practices throughout East Tennessee. “We also were able to assist Pellissippi State Community College and Roane State Community College with storage and logistics for their two newly established clinics in Blount and Anderson counties,” he says.

Aaron Browne in front of drive-thru

Covenant Health’s 11,000 employees and healthcare workers at other organizations in the community have been able to get their vaccinations at about 173 clinics offered at the health system’s member hospitals.

“The clinic process begins around 5 p.m. the night before,” Browne says. “I will report to the pharmacy team at Parkwest Medical Center the number of vaccines we project to give the following day based on our appointment schedule. The team retrieves the vaccines from the ultra-cold freezer and allows them to thaw in the fridge overnight.”

Behind the scenes, hundreds of employees and employee volunteers in departments throughout Covenant Health have been involved in developing computer programs for logistics and tracking supplies, making appointments and answering questions for the public, providing traffic direction and public safety at the drive-through clinics and many other roles.

Malissa Mocsari, RN, BSN, RNC-0B, is one of the vaccination team leaders who deploys and administers vaccinations and trains team members on best practices. “There are so many jobs going into it,” she says. “Nurses from all our facilities come administer the vaccine. People in roles throughout Covenant Health are volunteering to help.”

Volunteers also have included students from area nursing schools including Tennessee Wesleyan University, Roane State Community College, South College, Pellissippi State Community College and UT College of Nursing.

“If not for all these volunteers, we couldn’t do it,” Mocsari says. “It takes a whole team of people and it has been spectacular to see.”

Health experts explain that although the vaccine does provide individual protection against infection, it is just one part of risk mitigation. Health leaders remind the public to keep taking action steps like masking, distancing and hand washing to prevent contracting the virus and other illnesses.

The Fort Sanders West drive-through clinic is open to all eligible adults. For the latest information and to make an appointment, call 374-6159 or visit

Information provided by public relations/marketing department of Covenant Health.

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