NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Metro first responders, health care workers and long-term care facility residents and staff will be among the first to be vaccinated in Davidson County, once a COVID-19 vaccine is approved – and Tennessee could get its initial round of doses as early as this weekend.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper and Metro Public Health officials provided an update on the city’s vaccine distribution plan during their weekly COVID-19 briefing on Thursday.
Cooper said the next six weeks will be the “most vulnerable” for Nashville, as community spread reaches an all-time high and hospital capacity continues to be stretched thin.
Today's update comes as the FDA advisory panel is meeting to possibly approve the Pfizer vaccine for emergency use in the U.S. That vaccine advisory panel includes Meharry Medical College President and CEO Dr. James Hildreth.
Once the vaccine is available, it will require two doses and take 35 days to achieve immunity.
“As we roll out our immunizations in the weeks ahead, we may unintentionally relax our guard before the vaccine really starts to protect our community,” Cooper said, urging everyone to remain vigilant to help slow the spread of the virus.
Front line health care workers, long-term care facilities and first responders will get vaccinated first. However, Metro officials said they still do not know when Nashville will receive its initial batch or how many doses it will receive.
Dr. Alex Jahangir said if the FDA approves the Pfizer vaccine, Tennessee could get its initial 56,000 doses this weekend and possibly more next week.
“I think the state will be the first to tell you that 56,000 doses is not enough for everyone on the front end,” said Dr. Jahangir. “But the whole point is 56,000 potentially in arms by this weekend is pretty impressive. And hopefully, shortly thereafter hopefully as early as next week, we’ll get another dose… until everyone gets [vaccinated].”
Dr. Jahangir said the state will decide which hospitals receive the vaccine first, based on the size of the facility. From there, each hospital will vaccinate its staff. Metro will be responsible for vaccinating its front line workers, including first responders and assessment center employees.
For long-term care facilities, the state will work with pharmacies to provide vaccination.
As to how long we should expect to continue wearing masks, Dr. Jahangir said it likely won’t be until we have enough immunity within the community – that’s roughly 70%-80% of the community being vaccinated.