NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Health officials say Tennessee was selected as one of four states to participate in a pilot program for delivery of the Pfizer Inc. COVID-19 vaccine currently under development.
“We have a robust plan in place for distribution of this vaccine, and we’re honored to be chosen to help establish a model for other states in providing COVID-19 vaccine to their residents once it’s approved,” Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP said in a press release.
The vaccine is required to be stored in ultra-cold conditions; so the program will address some of the challenges that requirement poses.
Tennessee will participate in the pilot along with New Mexico, Rhode Island and Texas, states chosen based on their differences in size, population diversity and immunization infrastructure. Lessons learned through this program will help support all states in development of effective immunization programs for this COVID-19 vaccine.
However, once the vaccine is approved, Tennessee and other states participating in the pilot will not receive vaccine doses earlier than other states.
Pfizer expects to have enough safety data on the vaccine from ongoing trials before the end of November before applying for emergency use authorization. Pfizer is working with Operation Warp Speed and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure that following approval, their COVID-19 vaccine can be provided to those most in need as quickly and equitably as possible.
TDH in coordination with other state and local agencies submitted an initial draft of the COVID-19 Vaccination Plan for Tennessee to the CDC on October 16, 2020. This plan will be modified as more is understood about the virus and the availability of approved vaccines currently in development.
Tennessee is preparing to begin distribution of COVID-19 vaccine as early as December 2020. However, health officials say most people won't be able to get the vaccine until the spring. The state health department will be working with hospitals and pharmacies to help administer the vaccine.