The Tennessee Department of Health on Oct. 21 announced the state’s infrastructure plan for distribution of COVID-19 vaccines once they become available.

State health officials, in coordination with other state and local agencies, submitted an initial draft of the COVID-19 vaccination plan for Tennessee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Oct. 16.

“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,” said state health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey “Our vaccine distribution plan will be modified as more is understood about the virus and the availability of approved vaccines currently in development.”

State health officials developed a preliminary structure for the allocation and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines:

• 5% of Tennessee’s allocation of COVID-19 vaccines will be distributed equitably among all 95 counties.

• 10% of Tennessee’s allocation of COVID-19 vaccines will be reserved by the state for use in targeted areas with high vulnerability to illness and death from the virus.

• 85% of Tennessee’s allocation of COVID-19 vaccines will be distributed among all 95 counties based on their populations.

State health officials modeled the approach to allocation and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines after review of the CDC’s COVID-19 vaccination program interim playbook for jurisdictional operations and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s framework for equitable allocation of COVID-19 vaccine and in consultation with Tennessee’s unified command group and a stakeholder group of more than 28 partner agencies and offices.

State health officials will ensure implementation of the COVID-19 vaccination program through tracking of provider enrollment, mapping of locations of vaccination services, monitoring performance of the Tennessee immunization information system and tracking of vaccine ordering and distribution.

State health officials are working to recruit and onboard hospitals, pharmacies, clinics and other partners capable of storing vaccine and administering it to priority populations. The partners are required to sign the CDC’s COVID-19 vaccine provider agreement and profile, demonstrate ability to store vaccine in the required conditions and establish a process for reporting all administered doses of vaccine to the Tennessee immunization information system within 24 hours of administration. State health officials will ensure distribution of vaccination sites across all 95 counties, especially in rural counties and areas with high concentrations of people in vulnerable populations.

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