The week of Christmas brought fresh hope to Tennessee and Virginia as the newest approved vaccine to prevent COVID-19 arrived in both states. The Moderna vaccine was delivered on the heels of the Pfizer vaccine and is already being administered at sites throughout Tennessee and Virginia.
Tennessee was slated to receive an initial allocation of a total of 115,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine while Virginia placed an order for around 140,000 doses in anticipation that Moderna’s vaccine would be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“Vaccines are our way out of this pandemic. With Pfizer-BioNTech and now Moderna vaccines available, more Virginians are able to get vaccinated,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA. “The interest we are seeing from community members on when they can get vaccinated indicates people want this protection. We are working hard to get vaccines to people as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please continue to wear a face mask, practice social distancing, and wash your hands frequently.”
Distribution plans differ slightly in each state. In Tennessee, for example, the Pfizer vaccine has been earmarked only for frontline hospital health care workers while the Modrena vaccine will also be available to first responders, long-term care facility residents and staff, home health providers and student health providers. In Virginia, the plan is to administer 100,000 doses per week at 96 sites using a 50/50 split between the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
With two vaccines available, 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.
Despite the different approaches, Tennessee and Virginia are both following CDC recommendations when it comes to prioritization of how the vaccines should be allocated. Tennessee’s plan is laid out in the charts included with this story and Virginia’s guidelines can be found here.
“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.”
Tennessee’s local health departments continue to offer COVID-19 testing five days a week at no charge to those wishing to be tested. Find testing hours and contact information for TDH health department testing sites online here.
While vaccinations are being administered, leaders in Virgina are encouraging everyone to continue to take action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community. Continue to wear cloth face-coverings or masks, stay at least six feet away from others, wash your hands well and often, and avoid gatherings with anyone who is not a member of your household.
For more information about the Virginia Department of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccination Response Plan, visit vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine.