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Tennessee opening vaccination eligibility to all people 16 and older

By Richard Rourk

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced that all Tennessee adults will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination no later than April 5. Tennesseans aged 55 and older and those in Phase 2 of the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan have been eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations since March 18.

By April 5, all Tennesseans age 16 and over will become eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. Eligibility for those in Phase 3 of the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan will run concurrently with age-based eligibility. Phase 3 includes residents and staff members of congregate living facilities including college dormitories, group homes and shelters and those in the corrections system. Phase 3 also includes grocery store workers who were not eligible for vaccination based on previous age or risk-based categories. To help ensure vaccines are available to these populations, direct allocations of vaccines will be made to these facilities.

Tennessee continues to see increasing supplies of COVID-19 vaccines, which allows the state to rapidly accelerate eligibility to receive the vaccination.

TDH vaccine milestones

• 2.9 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered to Tennessee providers to date
• Expecting new allocations of Johnson and Johnson vaccine week of March 29, which will increase weekly supplies by 30 percent

“As we’ve promised, we’re able to expand our COVID-19 vaccine eligibility as vaccine supplies have increased and we’ve made substantial progress in protecting those most at risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19,” said Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey. “Tennessee will now open COVID-19 vaccination to all eligible adults well ahead of the federal goal of May 1.”

Expanding COVID-19 vaccination eligibility

Effective Mar. 18, Tennesseans aged 55 and older and those in Phase 2 of the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan are eligible. Phase 2 includes those who work in settings that have experienced high numbers of COVID-19 infection clusters, and whose work is critical to continuing vital state operations. These groups include:

• Child welfare and adult protective services agency workers with direct public exposure
• Commercial food manufacturing workers
• Commercial agriculture workers involved in the production and safety of food supplies and commodities
• Corrections system workers not previously covered under Phase 1a1
• Public transit drivers and maintenance personnel
• People working in other transportation, public infrastructure, telecommunications and utility industries

Find vaccination providers in your area by visiting VaccineFinder.org. Tennessee county health departments across the state currently have appointments available for COVID-19 vaccination. Book an appointment with your county health department at COVID19.tn.gov. Those who need help scheduling a COVID-19 vaccination appointment with their local health department may call the TDH vaccine support line at 866-442-5301.

TDH reminds all Tennesseans that in addition to vaccination, wearing a face mask, maintaining social distance and getting tested when exposed or sick are critical to controlling the pandemic.

Tennessee’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan is available online at www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/health/documents/cedep/novel-coronavirus/COVID-19_Vaccination_Plan.pdf. Find answers to frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccination at https://covid19.tn.gov/data/faqs/.

Connect with TDH on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn @TNDeptofHealth.

Vaccinations by the numbers
As of Wednesday, March 31, 2,639,262 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Tennessee. In Unicoi County, at least 8,751 individuals have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination.