NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) – Tennessee received its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine for use as an emergency supply on Monday, according to the Department of Health.
The state expects to receive 56,550 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 on Wednesday, which will then be shipped to 28 locations on Thursday to serve 74 hospitals. A second shipment of 56,500 doses is expected to be delivered three weeks later.
However, Monday’s shipment of 975 vaccines will be used as a back-up in case a hospital’s vaccine doses are damaged.
“We have been preparing to distribute approved vaccines for months and we believe this will be a safe and effective tool in the fight against COVID-19,” Lisa Piercey, Tennessee health commissioner, said in a statement.
Piercey added that the state’s early vaccination would be “limited,” but stressed that the state was “in constant contact with hospitals to prepare administration for our primary care and long-term care facility residents and staff who choose to use it. receive. . “
The introduction of the Pfizer vaccine, the first to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, ushers in the largest vaccination effort in US history – a health official hopes the American public will embrace even if some have initial skepticism or have expressed concerns. On Monday, shots began to be given to health workers and residents of nursing homes.
The Pfizer injection requires two rounds, which means the people who are getting the vaccines now will get a second injection in about three weeks.
The vaccine shipments come as Nashville reported its record number of new virus cases in one day with 1,311 new cases Monday.
City health officials say more than 50% of those cases were among those tested on Dec. 7, citing in a statement that the spike was a “clear indication of the post-Thanksgiving spike seen in the US”
Statewide, health officials reported more than 10,300 new cases and 79 deaths on Monday. To date, more than 5,540 Tennesseans have died from the virus. That number is the 16th highest in the country, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins.
The Department of Correction said 29 state prison inmates have died as a result of COVID-19 complications, but the state said some of the deaths were awaiting official cause of death confirmation from a medical examiner. More than 60 inmates have tested positive with the virus.
Currently, 2,906 Tennesseans have been hospitalized with COVID-19-related symptoms. Of those hospitalized, 359 are on ventilators.
Meanwhile, Memphis Veterans Affairs Medical Center officials said the hospital has been chosen as one of 37 VA sites to receive early doses of the vaccine due to its ability to vaccinate large numbers of people and store vaccines at extremely low temperatures.
Shelby County, which includes Memphis, recorded an additional 998 cases of the virus Monday, one of the highest increases in one day since the pandemic began, health department officials said. Hospitals report acute and intensive bed shortages and staff shortages.
Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
Associated Press writer Adrian Sainz contributed to this report from Memphis, Tennessee.