COVID-19 vaccine to roll out in four phases, starting with health care workers

Posted at 5:24 PM, Nov 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-25 19:15:12-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — With the announcement that vaccines may be in Tennessee for initial distribution soon, Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey explained how the plan will work.

The earliest distribution is expected on either December 14 or 15. It's 24 to 48 hours after the FDA is expected to approve the Pfizer vaccine.

"As soon as the FDA gives that decision, the federal government has committed to allocating it and shipping it to states within 24 hours," said Dr. Piercey. "We have committed to, as soon as we get it in hand, to start deploying that immediately."

The state's plan involves four phases. The first phase involves the front line against the fight against COVID-19.

Health care workers and first responders will be the first people in the state to be immunized. Eighty-thousand units of the vaccine are expected in the first shipment. The state's priority is keeping health care workers in the fight against the virus.

"When you move into phase two, that's essentially the essential worker category or critical infrastructure. And then phase three is more of a broad or general public and phase four is everybody," said Dr. Piercey.

She said she doesn't expect to reach the final phases until the late spring or summer. However, the timeline could change if more vaccine brands become available.

In the short term, the Moderna vaccine is expected just a week after Pfizer becomes available. Then, in early 2021, Astrazeneca and a Johnson and Johnson vaccine could be ready.

"We're all tired. We're tired of living this. We're tired of living in all of these restrictions. And from a health care standpoint, we're tired of feeling helpless. And so, this vaccine is just a ray of hope," said Dr. Piercey.