State’s first COVID vaccines serving as backup

By , Daily Memphian Updated: December 15, 2020 6:13 PM CT | Published: December 15, 2020 6:06 PM CT

COVID-19 is spreading faster in Tennessee than anywhere else in the United States, but the state won’t use its first vaccines immediately.

The Tennessee Department of Health received an “early shipment” of 975 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine Monday, Dec. 14, and the state is keeping them as an “emergency backup supply,” according to a Tuesday afternoon press release.

According to the release, TDH expects to deliver 56,550 doses to 74 Tennessee hospitals Thursday, Dec. 17. The department expects another shipment of the same number of doses in about three weeks.


Local hospitals to get Pfizer vaccine this week


“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,” state health commissioner Lisa Piercey said.

Monday’s shipment will be used if the others are damaged.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted an emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine Dec. 11. Health care workers in New York were the first to get the shot Monday. The FDA is also reviewing a vaccine produced by Moderna.

Both vaccines require two shots about three weeks apart.

The emergency approval comes as the coronavirus continues “uncontrollable spread” everywhere in the U.S., according to the COVID Tracking Project. Tennessee leads the nation in the rate of spread in the past week, at 1,161 cases per million per day.

Of the 20 cities where COVID is spreading the fastest, nine are in Tennessee, according to The New York Times.

Those cities: Sevierville, Cookeville, Greeneville, Tullahoma, Crossville, Cleveland, Morristown, Knoxville and Athens.

Thousands of people around the country have already been vaccinated, having participated in clinical trials of the vaccine.

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Topics

COVID Dr. Lisa Piercey

Ian Round

Ian Round is The Daily Memphian’s state government reporter. He came to Tennessee from Maryland where he reported on local politics for Baltimore Brew. He earned a Master of Journalism degree from the University of Maryland in December 2019.


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