Tennessee is gearing up to move to its next phase of vaccine administration.
In a press conference March 2, TDH Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey announced that beginning March 8, the state will move to Phase 1C, which includes individuals ages 16 and older with high-risk health conditions and caregivers of children with high-risk conditions.
Piercey also said the state is expecting to begin receiving doses of the newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine as early as next week; however, an exact date is still subject to approval. With a third vaccine option, Piercey said the state expects to have approximately a quarter of a million vaccines in the coming week.
Piercey said because the population of Phase 1C is expected to be large, the state will not yet move to its next age bracket. Currently residents age 65 and older are still eligible.
"This is a massive population and the reason we're going to speed up and go into that phase is in anticipation for this large surplus of vaccine that we expect in the next 2-3 weeks," she said.
As of mid-February, Phase 1C also includes pregnant women, who are at higher risk of hospitalization if they contract COVID-19, according to the TDH.
Other high-risk conditions include high-blood pressure, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma.
The move comes less than two weeks after the state entered Phase 1B, which includes teachers and first responders not included in previous phases.
As more pharmacies and health care providers receive approval to administer the vaccine, Piercey also advised residents to use www.vaccinefinder.org to find local sites administering the vaccine.