Tennessee teachers, seniors moved up in line to receive COVID-19 vaccine

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Tennessee updated its plan for administering the COVID-19 vaccine to Tennesseans on Wednesday, prioritizing teachers and beginning an age-based approach to vaccinations.

Inpatient health care workers, residents and staff of long-term care facilities, and first responders remain first in line for the vaccine. Outpatient health care workers with direct patient exposure now will be followed by K-12 teachers and child care staff.

“We have moved teachers, K-12 staff, child care staff really to the top of the list, right behind health care workers,” Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said Wednesday.

“We want to do it for children,” Piercey said. “We want to do it for parents in order to have kids in school so parents can go to work. … This will help us further get the teachers in the classroom and kids in the classroom, which is the best thing for our society in our economy.”

Tennessee also is beginning age-based vaccinations, beginning with seniors 75 years old and older.

Nearly 79,300 Tennesseans have received the COVID-19 vaccine, according to Tennessee Department of Health data.

While vaccine doses remain limited, the state’s plan is designed to minimize risk for vulnerable Tennesseans and to the state’s health care infrastructure, Piercey said.

Changes in the state’s vaccine distribution plan are based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and discussions with Tennessee’s Unified Command Group.

“We think this is going to make our distribution more efficient, more effective, and cut hospitalizations and our death rate more quickly,” Gov. Bill Lee said Wednesday. “The main goal we have is to get vaccines in arms and to quickly get ahead of the infection rate and, specifically, the death rate in our state.”

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