NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee is lagging behind President Joe Biden’s goal of getting 70 percent of the state’s adult population vaccinated with at least one shot by July 4, according to a Vanderbilt University Medical Center infectious disease expert.
An improving pandemic has been marked by fewer cases of the coronavirus, fewer people in the hospital and fewer people dying.
Some doctors say the state could be left vulnerable if more people don’t get vaccinated.
“But it’s also important to note that the pandemic is still with us currently in the state of Tennessee; there are over 400 people in the hospital right now with COVID-19,” Dr. David Aronoff, Director of Vanderbilt’s Infectious Diseases Division said.
Of all Tennesseans, 33.5 percent are fully vaccinated.
“We’re somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of our population at least having started getting vaccinated, which is far behind the nation and there are actually some states where their population is over 70 percent vaccinated, particularly in adults is very clear that Tennessee is lagging and we need to be able to do better,” he said.
Aronoff says more should be done to increase immunity to the virus.
“We’ve seen nearly 13,000 lives lost in our state from this ongoing pandemic and there’s the ever present threat that we could see disease activity pick up again, particularly if we start to see new variants of the SARS‑CoV‑2 virus in our area.”
Dr. Aronoff says the goal from Biden is a big challenge but one that could be attained later in the year.
“In the state of Tennessee where our numbers are lagging far behind the rest of the country, I think we really are looking at months out if we don’t do something to help get people immunized sooner. So, 70 percent could be August, could be September at the current rate that we’re going.”
Records show 39.4 percent of Tennesseans have received one shot of the coronavirus vaccine.
The Tennessee Department of Health launched a “Give it a Shot” COVID-19 campaign on May 1 and will run through November to increase awareness of available vaccines.
The total cost for the campaign is $2.5 million.