Health officials in Tennessee spent the past week defending why they didn’t promptly begin vaccinations when the state received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine doses from Pfizer on Monday.
A week later, those doses will go to Nashville General Hospital, according to spokesperson Sherry Gibbs.
The shipments directly from Pfizer to 28 sites were all received intact late this week, according to a Tennessee Department of Health spokesperson. State officials had said the first box of roughly 975 doses received Monday was being held in reserve in case any shipments to hospitals were damaged.
The state was prioritizing large medical centers that would be able to use all the doses, since it is difficult but not impossible to split them up. That’s because of the super-cold storage requirements.
Nashville General doesn’t need 975 doses for its staff, so the state is sending a portion of the shipment and storing the rest until workers need their second dose in three weeks.
The hospital is based in the historically Black neighborhood of North Nashville, and its physicians are primarily from Meharry Medical College, a historically Black institution that has also been staffing Nashville’s drive-thru COVID testing sites. Though the hospital was not initially slated for the first shipments, state officials have insisted that their plan is “focused on equity.”
Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey tells WPLN News the state has also decided it won’t need to hold back about 5,000 doses of the Moderna vaccines, which should be arriving this week.