NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Tennessee Department of Health announced changes to the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan.
On Wednesday, TDH updated the vaccination plan and said the state will be starting age-based vaccinations in ten-year age brackets. Those brackets begin with Tennesseans ages 75 and older.
As of Wednesday, Tennessee in currently in Phase 1a of the vaccination plan, which is made up of two subsections.
Phase 1a1 provides vaccines “for in-patient health care providers, first responders with direct exposure to the public and staff members and residents of long-term care facilities,” according to a release from TDH.
“If you’ll notice looking at the top of the plan, they also have high-risk population groups that we also need to sub-target in those groups. So, looking at equity in getting the vaccine out to all groups,” Sullivan County Health Department’s Medical Director Dr. Stephen May told News Channel 11’s Bianca Marais.
The release says health care workers who work primarily in outpatient settings will receive vaccines in Phase 1a2.
“We have a cross-cutting focus on equity, but our overarching principle in determining all of these phases is risk,” TDH Director Dr. Lisa Piercey said during a Wednesday morning media call.
As phases continue, school staff, first responders, high-risk individuals and critical infrastructure workers will receive the vaccine.
“That is keeping our frontline healthcare workers at the bedside and simultaneously reducing demand on hospital capacity. Which means basically trying to keep workers in the hospital and trying to keep people out of the hospital,” she added.
Piercey says the phases of the plan can vary by county, meaning some areas of the state may begin vaccinating other groups earlier.
Eligibility for the vaccine increases based on age as Tennessee continues to enter new phases of the vaccination plan.
“It’s not a judgment call on who’s more important or more worthy, it’s who is at the highest risk,” she said.
You can read the full TDH release below:
Over 20,000 COVID-19 vaccines have been distributed to Tennessee health departments.
Sullivan County’s Dr. May told News Channel 11’s Bianca Marais that the county has received 1,400 vaccines.
Sullivan County is still inoculating Phase 1a1, meaning only frontline healthcare workers and first responders. May said the next phase will begin in the new year.
“At present, our vaccine is extremely limited, and we will not be ready to get those types of appointments started until we have an adequate vaccine supply, and this is not just an issue for Sullivan County, this is statewide, depending on what phase they are in and how much vaccine supply that they have,” he said.
When the vaccine becomes available to the general population, Tennesseans will be able to receive the vaccination at any county health department in the state. State health officials said they hope to have 70% of Tennesseans vaccinated by August 2021.
To check on which phase your county health department is currently vaccinating, CLICK HERE.