NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — This week, federal officials announced changes in the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, but local experts have concerns about the new guidelines.
The new guidelines urge states to make coronavirus vaccines available to anybody 65 years old or older. The change also makes the entire vaccine supply available to states; federal officials had previously been holding back a reserve supply of the vaccine to ensure there will be enough for the required second doses.
The new strategy, which was first proposed by the incoming Joe Biden administration before being adopted by the current Health and Human Services Secretary, is a way to get more shots into arms in less time.
"My concern is based on the science," Dr. James Hildreth, the President of CEO of Meharry Medical College, said. "I have no objection to getting as many people vaccinated as soon as possible, but let's make sure that second dose is available at about the time it is required to give us the most protection."
Hildreth, who also sits on an FDA vaccine committee, said he was worried the new guidelines could interfere with people getting their second doses of the vaccine. The second shot is called a "booster," and helps make the vaccine more effective, Hildreth explained.
"The longer we go without achieving full protection, the greater the chances are that variants will arise that our antibodies wont protect us against, and in theory we could be back at square one," Hildreth said.