KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The U.S. is preparing to give the first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine Monday.
The Tennessee Dept. of Health said in a press release on Monday that the state had received its first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine ahead of statewide shipment on Thursday. The state obtained an early shipment of 975 doses to hold as an emergency backup supply should any receiving hospital’s supply be damaged.
The state expects to receive 56,550 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week. Vaccines should be shipped on Wednesday for delivery to 28 sites covering 74 Tennessee hospitals on Thursday, Dec. 17. Tennessee expects a second shipment of 56,500 doses of this vaccine approximately three weeks later.
“We have been preparing for months to distribute approved vaccines and we believe this will be a safe and effective tool in the fight against COVID-19,” said Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP. “Our initial supplies of this vaccine are limited, but we are in constant contact with hospitals to prepare administration for our front-line health care workers and long-term care facility residents and staff who choose to receive it.”
The first and second Pfizer vaccine shipments will be used to provide first and second vaccine doses to individuals qualifying for Phase 1a1, as detailed in the COVID-19 Vaccination Plan for Tennessee. This plan was last updated Dec. 2 and will be modified as more is learned about the vaccines Tennessee will receive.
This comes just days after the panel of independent experts voted to recommend the vaccine and the FDA issued an emergency use authorization.
The state's largest hospitals have the best facilities to store the vaccine at extremely low temperatures. When it's approved, the Moderna vaccine will be sent to the state's more rural hospitals because its storage requirements aren't as strict.
During the rest of phase one, the state will vaccinate all other healthcare workers then people with high risk factors.
Phase two will include workers in critical infrastructure, teachers, other people with risk factors and corrections facilities.
Phase three will vaccinate young adults, children and industry workers.
Everyone else will be covered in phase three.
The timing depends on how quickly the vacccines are available and can be distributed, but it could be summer before we reach phase three.