New administration, new COVID-19 vaccine plan

Coronavirus

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Dr. James Hildreth and Dr. William Schaffner, two of Nashville’s top doctors, have both played pivotal roles in the fight against COVID-19.

Dr. Hildreth had a vote in approving both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines while Dr. Schaffner serves as an advisor to the board that determines vaccine distribution.

“I don’t think any of us have been satisfied with how quickly the vaccine roll out took place,” explains Schaffner.

Part of the delay stems from an over-promise.

“The manufactures overestimated, initially, how much they could produce rapidly,” Dr. Schaffner says.

The process was further slowed by the initial distribution approach taken in the U.S.

“We actually decided to hold back the second dose to make sure everybody completed the series,” explains Schaffner. “After all, when you tell people 95 percent protection, that requires two doses and we didn’t want to mislead people.”

Now, there’s a change.

“The Biden Administration is pushing the idea of taking all the vaccines currently available and giving as many people as possible their first shot,” says Dr. Hildreth.

This approach happens to be what Great Britain did in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“On reflection we’ve said, ‘hmm, maybe that works better,'” says Schaffner. “Even the World Health Organization has said ‘don’t get too picky about the second dose, but as long as you get it.'”

The problem with that, Hildreth says, is people may be left waiting with unreliable dose availability.

“I understand the motivation of the CDC and others who are saying we should get as many shots done as possible, but what the science says is the second shot on 21 to 28 days later is critically important. That’s where the lasting immunity comes. We need to stick to that.”

Both doctors believe there must be a guarantee from manufactures, not just a reassurance, that enough vaccine will be available.

“That’s my biggest concern is that we find a way to acknowledge and be guided by science and not by other things. That’s where the real work needs to be done, at the national level in my opinion,” Hildreth says.

It’s unclear when the approach will change.

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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COVID-19 in Tennessee

(This reflects what the TDH reports each day. )

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