NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Dr. Bill Frist called for state leaders to ramp up vaccine efforts as Tennessee lags behind in COVID-19 vaccination rates. 

The Republican, who was elected to office in 1994, is also a heart and lung transplant surgeon. He took to Twitter Friday, citing a poll that ranked Tennessee 44th for the percentage of people vaccinated. Frist called the ranking “discouraging and deadly.” 

“Tennessee can stand by science and save lives, or we can further a dangerous trend that is eroding public health and trust in government,” Frist said. “But it is the responsibility of our state’s leaders to take sometimes uncomfortable, even unpopular, positions when the health and lives of our people are at stake.”

From availability to current phases, find vaccine information for every Tennessee county using News 2’s Vaccine Tracker map.

Frist served as a senator between 1994 and 2006 and is now a cardiac surgery professor at Vanderbilt University.