Tennessee officials said they are making great progress in rapidly vaccinating those at highest risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19.

Within four weeks of Tennessee receiving its first doses of COVID-19 vaccine, more than 221,000 people in the state received vaccinations, and the Tennessee Department of Health is distributing COVID-19 vaccinations as rapidly as supplies are received from the federal government.

Tennessee is one of the most successful states in the U.S. at administering vaccine, having administered more than 50% of the vaccines received by the state, officials said.

Tennessee currently provides COVID-19 vaccinations to residents and staff members in long-term care facilities, a priority population for phase 1a1 of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan. Residents of long-term care facilities are one of the most vulnerable populations for severe disease and death from COVID-19. In Tennessee, about 68% of all COVID-related deaths have happened in people 70 and older, and more than 2,000 deaths have happened among residents of long-term care facilities alone.

“Tennessee’s COVID-19 vaccination plan prioritizes those most at risk of serious illness, and it is critical we protect our medically fragile senior citizens, who are at greater risk than other adults of needing hospitalization or dying if diagnosed with COVID-19,” said Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey.

Pharmacies, including Walgreen’s, CVS and other local independent pharmacies partnered to vaccinate residents and staff members of long-term care facilities. The efforts started the week of Dec. 28.

Nursing homes are prioritized first, as their residents require higher levels of medical care, with assisted living facilities and homes for the aged as the next priority. Since Dec. 28, CVS vaccinated staff members and residents at 58 Tennessee nursing homes, and Walgreen’s vaccinated staff members and residents in at least 125 facilities. Walgreen’s plans to complete COVID-19 vaccinations at all of its nursing home facilities by Jan. 25.

Tennessee assisted care living facilities and homes for the aged also started vaccinating their staff members and residents Jan. 13 through the federal partnership with Walgreen’s and CVS. While COVID-19 vaccine supplies remain limited, the state is also prioritizing vaccination of Tennesseans 75 and older. Additional priority populations will be able to receive COVID-19 vaccinations as quickly as vaccine supplies allow, as outlined in the Tennessee COVID-19 vaccination plan.

Availability of vaccines varies by county. Tennessee counties may progress through COVID-19 vaccination phases at different times depending on supplies of vaccines. Tennesseans can learn what phase they will be in for receiving vaccine at covid19.tn.gov/covid-19-vaccines/vaccine-phases.

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