Gov. Bill Lee: COVID-19 vaccines expected to reach Tennessee in December

Gov. Bill Lee announced COVID-19 vaccines are expected to reach the state in December.  (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Gov. Bill Lee announced COVID-19 vaccines are expected to reach the state in December. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Gov. Bill Lee announced COVID-19 vaccines are expected to reach the state in December. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Officials announced Dec. 7 that Tennessee is expected to receive its first doses of in December, according to Gov. Bill Lee.

The state is expected to receive 56,550 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, according to the state’s COVID-19 response website. Clinical trials are still underway, and the vaccine is dependent on the outcome of those trials.

Because the supply of vaccines is expected to be limited at first, the state prepared a draft of its COVID-19 Vaccination Plan in October. According to the draft plan, there are four phases in which the vaccine will be allocated.

Phase 1: 1.75 million Tennesseans

Emergency health care workers with high exposure risk, first responders and workers in long-term care facilities will be among the first to receive the vaccine, with priority given to individuals age 65 and older and those with chronic health conditions. Other health care workers will be next in Phase I, followed by adults with two or more high-risk health conditions, such as cancer, heart failure, pulmonary diseases, immunocompromising diseases, diabetes and organ transplant patients. Priority will again be given to adults age 65 and older.

Phase 2: 2.55 million Tennesseans

The second phase of vaccines will be given to critical infrastructure workers, K-12 teachers and school staff, child care workers, healthy individuals age 65 and older, correctional residents and staff, and all individuals with comorbidities.

Phase 3: 2 million Tennesseans

The third phase of vaccines will go to young adults, children and workers in industries with higher risks of exposure, such as entertainment, goods production and universities.

Phase 4: 500,000 Tennesseans

This phase will include any other resident not included in phases above.

According to the draft plan, vaccine availability is expected to increase during the first quarter of 2021, which will allow quicker movement from Phase 2 to Phase 3. The vaccine will be administered in a two-shot dose.

Health officials are recommending even those who have already had the virus get the vaccine because there is not enough evidence to prove immunity. None of the vaccines currently in clinical trials includes live-attenuated, or weakened, viruses, so it is not be possible to contract the virus from the vaccine.

The state is also working with pharmacies, correctional facilities, homeless shelters and community organizations to help identify critical populations in need of the vaccine. A small portion of vaccines will be reserved in case of spoilage during transit to the state’s 95 counties, according to the draft plan.

The number of vaccines administered is expected to be publicly reported, according to the draft plan.

See the full plan from the state here.
By Wendy Sturges
A Houston native and graduate of St. Edward's University in Austin, Wendy Sturges has worked as a community journalist covering local government, health care, business and development since 2011. She has worked with Community Impact since 2015 as a reporter and editor and moved to Tennessee in 2019.