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Moderna COVID-19 vaccine arriving in Tennessee; supplies expected to arrive at all TN health departments next week

The Tennessee Department of Health Thursday announced the state expects to receive its first shipment of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on or around Dec. 21.

Tennessee expects to receive an initial allocation of a total of 115,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine over the next two weeks, following Emergency Use Authorization issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and recommendations released by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine should be shipped for delivery Dec. 21 to all 95 Tennessee county health departments. Smaller hospitals that are not receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are expected to receive Moderna vaccine the week of Dec. 28.

Unity Medical Center in Manchester did not receive Pfizer vaccine. Officials at Unity told Thunder Radio News that they are working to confirm if they will indeed receive Moderna vaccine during this first shipment. 

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The FDA announced Wednesday that vials of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which are labeled as containing five doses, may include enough of the vaccine to provide six or possibly seven doses. FDA has announced these additional doses may be used, meaning Tennessee may have as many as 11,000 more doses of this vaccine to provide than originally expected.

“We are excited to receive these additional vaccines and see our COVID-19 vaccination activities underway,” said Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP. “Tennessee county health department staff members will administer the Moderna vaccine to first responders, home health care providers and student health care providers in partnership with these organizations and their local community emergency management agencies.”

Initial supplies of the COVID-19 vaccines are limited. The first allocations of both the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines in Tennessee will be used to provide first vaccine doses to individuals qualifying for Phase 1a1, as detailed in the COVID-19 Vaccination Plan for Tennessee. It is important to note these Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable; each patient must receive two doses of the same vaccine to be protected against COVID-19. Those who choose to receive the vaccine will receive a card with the date of their first dose, the name/manufacturer of the vaccine received and the date on which they should receive their second dose.

“Tennessee’s plan for allocation of COVID-19 vaccine has been thoughtfully developed with a focus on how best to serve our diverse populations and communities, and to ensure distribution of vaccination sites across all 95 counties, especially in rural areas and those with high concentrations of people in vulnerable populations,” Piercey said.

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Tennessee’s COVID-19 vaccination plan was last updated Dec. 2 and will be modified as more is learned about the vaccines Tennessee will receive.

Tennessee’s local health departments continue to offer COVID-19 testing five days a week at no charge to those wishing to be tested. TDH testing sites across the state will employ self-testing kits for adults three days a week beginning Dec. 21, to allow staff members to transition to vaccination of frontline health care providers and first responders. Find testing hours and contact information for TDH health department testing sites online at https://covid19.tn.gov/testing-sites/.

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