Tennessee will receive 54,000 doses of the recently authorized Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, bringing its total allocation this week to roughly a quarter of a million doses when including the weekly allotment of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
And while the state will not receive any Johnson & Johnson vaccine for the following two weeks, Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said that by the end of the month the state could be looking at around 300,000 doses per week. In anticipation of that increase, Piercey said the state will also move to phase 1c in its vaccination plan next week — a phase that includes more than one million Tennesseans.
“The reason we’re going to go ahead and speed up and go to that phase is in anticipation for this large surplus of vaccine that we expect in the next two to three weeks,” Piercey said.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires a single shot and is around 72% effective at preventing COVID-19 infection, but much more effective at preventing severe illness and death. While the shot isn’t as effective at preventing infection as the other two candidates, which boast a 90%-plus protection rate, Piercey said people should focus on another number: It’s 100% effectiveness against hospitalization and death from the disease.
“The best vaccine is the one you can get the soonest,” Piercey said.
Phase 1c includes people with chronic renal disease, certain respiratory diseases, obesity, heart failure, dementia, sickle cell and liver disease, among other chronic conditions. A full list of those eligible for phase 1c of vaccination can be found at bit.ly/3baX4MO.
Piercey said there are about 200,000 appointments currently available at health departments statewide through April, with appointments also available at certain pharmacies and hospitals. To find a nearby vaccination location, visit covidvaccinefinder.org. The state also plans to announce several mass vaccination events in the coming weeks.