Nashville had 400 doses of Pfizer vaccine about a day from the end of their shelf life (five days post-thawing). So with vaccination clinics closed all week because of icy weather, the city’s health department went to the Nashville Rescue Mission on Wednesday and set up a COVID vaccination clinic.
Roughly 250 people sleeping at the Mission received the vaccine, along with dozens from the neighboring Room in the Inn program. Dr. Gill Wright, interim director of the city’s health department, says a few people from Metro’s waiting list were also called in to get the remaining doses.
People who are considered homeless don’t officially become eligible under Tennessee’s distribution plan until phase 3, which is still months away. But counties have been told by state officials to improvise if it means preventing spoilage.
“We are not going to let any vaccine go to waste,” says Dr. Alex Jahangir, chair of the city’s coronavirus task force. “If we’re presented with additional opportunities, we will continue to offer the shots to our residents here in Nashville.”
The Tennessee Department of Health also tapped Metro Public Health to use more than 100 doses that were about to go bad this week from Williamson County. TDH spokesperson Shelley Walker says health workers in Williamson County were having no luck getting the vaccines to people in phase and at high risk of complications with COVID.
So the mayor of Williamson County signed off on sending the doses to North Nashville where a clinic serving mainly Black seniors vaccinated 119 people. Walker says the rest of the doses were used on stranded postal workers, who would be in phase 2b as critical infrastructure workers.
“It’s our goal to make sure no COVID-19 vaccine is wasted, and we’re working with numerous partners to ensure we meet that goal,” Walker says in an email. “We’ve had no vaccine waste reported as a result of this week’s winter weather.”
Nashville expects to get vaccinations back on track this weekend, when the weather will finally top the freezing mark. People who missed appointments for first doses will be called to reschedule.
Those who have missed an appointment for a second dose are told to come anytime the Music City Center is open giving vaccines, though health officials ask that they try to come on the same day of the week as their original appointment in order to spread out the demand.