MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – The COVID-19 vaccination rate in Montgomery County lagged behind surrounding counties and the state average.
According to the Tennessee Health Department, 19.03% of the county’s population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine while 31.6% of people have received one dose or more statewide.
Montgomery County Mayor Jim Durrett felt the information on the state’s website did not reflect the true number of vaccinations in their area, especially given vaccinations at Fort Campbell.
“Fort Campbell is a huge population that those numbers are not included in the state numbers,” the Mayor said. “We’ve got a percentage of people that have been vaccinated that don’t show in our overall percentage. So I think if you took those the state and the federal government still aren’t connected on the federal partners implemented into the state system so I think if you looked at it we’re way above 30% of our population that’s been vaccinated which I think is a good number.”
Mayor Durrett said vaccinations have had their challenges from the beginning.
“When the state first rolled it out they were giving it to counties based on the at-risk population, Montgomery County is the youngest county in the state of Tennessee so we’re not getting as many vaccines as everybody so that was a sore spot. But the state has since changed that so they’re rolling it out based on the overall population,” Mayor Durrett said.
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From availability to current phases, find vaccine information for every Tennessee county using News 2’s Vaccine Tracker map.
He added that the county has been working with the state to make vaccinations more efficient even opening a new vaccination site with county funding that wouldn’t be impacted by severe weather. There are now more than two dozen places for people to get vaccines in Montgomery County, and the mayor said vaccinations did factor into his decision to lift the mask mandate in March.
“I think what I see when I go out in public and typically I’m wearing my mask when I go to the grocery store or to the hardware store or where ever, you still see a large percentage of people that are still wearing masks,” said Mayor Durrett.
Despite the mandate being lifted, he said leaders in the county were not letting their guard down. Every Monday, there’s a virtual meeting with county and city government officials, first responders, the hospital, and school system to see where cases stand and what changes are necessary to mitigate any new trends.
“There have been decisions that have been made out of that meeting to maybe shut down a school because of an uptick,” Durrett said. “Our EMA department every week checks in with every long-term healthcare organization in our community and every private school in our community to see what their rates are as well to see if we’ve got an outlier out there somewhere.”
According to the state health department, there were 495 active COVID-19 cases in Montgomery County, and there have been 224 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
“For me, you know, it’s real. It’s not the common flu. It’s not those things. It’s certainly real and it affects everybody differently. And that’s the scary thing about it,” said Mayor Durrett. “I can remember the thoughts going through my head after I received my positive test on a Sunday afternoon, thinking, going back home and waking up every morning wondering what is this day going to be like so the anxiety that it put me through, that it put my family through — my wife through, she had it the same time I did — it’s difficult.”
The mayor encouraged people to continue wearing masks when social distancing is not possible.