The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) released its plan Wednesday to distribute COVID-19 vaccines across the state once they are available.
Here's how state officials will distribute vaccines here once they are available:
• 5 percent will be distributed equitably among all 95 counties
• 10 percent will be used in targeted areas with high vulnerability to illness and death from the virus
• 85 percent will be distributed among all 95 counties based on their populations
“We assure Tennesseans that safe, effective, and approved COVID-19 vaccines will be released in Tennessee when they are available to reduce the spread of the virus,” TDOH Commissioner Lisa Piercey said in a statement. “Our vaccine distribution plan will be modified as more is understood about the virus and the availability of approved vaccines currently in development.”
The plan is modeled on recommendations from the CDC and the National Academies of Science in consultation with Tennessee’s Unified Command Group and a stakeholder group of more than 28 partner agencies and offices.
The agency is now working to recruit hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, and others capable of storing vaccine and administering it to priority populations.
Some of the plan was formed from the state's response to a hepatitis A outbreak here from December 2017 to May 2020. The response included six strike teams deployed across the state that administered 230,000 doses of a vaccine.
"Challenges included individual concerns regarding the vaccine itself and mistrust of the government, the hiring and supervision of large numbers of contracted workers, coordination of efforts and communication with metro jurisdictions that are not under the umbrella of TDH, and the need for sustained public communication around this prolonged outbreak," reads the plan.
The plan also pointed to the success of the 2018 Fight Flu TN effort that informed the current COVID-19 response plan. That aim of that effort was "to build robust and trusted community partnerships, vaccination plans, trained staff, and ability to operate autonomously in the face of worldwide pandemic."
In December 2018, the Fight Flu plan added 115 vaccine dispensing points, all but two of them were open to the public. The others were opened only for special populations, the plan said. In one day, nearly 1,200 staff administered nearly 4,500 vaccines across all of Tennessee's 95 counties. The next year, Fight Flu had 175 dispensaries and administered 9,666 doses of the vaccine.
This same Fight Flu infrastructure will reopen on November 19th in all counties. This year will be a sort of dry run for COVID-19 vaccine preparedness.
"All our local health departments have already developed plans that have been tailored to accommodate the realities of our current COVID-19 response," reads the plan. "In addition, community healthcare partners, universities, and others will be engaged in this one day preparedness event that will move the needle on COVID-19 vaccine preparedness."
Read the state's full plan here:
See related PDF