Tennessee ranks near bottom in vaccination rollout

Special Reports

NASHVILLE, Tenn., (WKRN) — Nearly two million Tennesseans have had a Covid-19 vaccination. However, less than half of those are fully vaccinated.

With only around 700,000 Tennesseans fully vaccinated, our state not only remains in the bottom for people getting shots but also for lacking behind in vaccine distribution.

“People have asked God for a miracle to move this virus out. Well, God has sent the miracle – the vaccine,” Democratic Rep. Johnny Shaw, District 80, said.

In the company of Texas, Georgia, Alabama, and Arkansas, Tennessee is only administering roughly 30,000 doses per 100,000 people – according to data from the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC). All other states are exceeding 30 thousand doses.

“If you look at second vaccines, we’re 12th in the nation. So, we’re pretty encouraged,” Governor Bill Lee said. Lee attempted to defend the vaccination rates but was not interested in answering reporter questions. It has been more than two weeks since he last answered questions in Middle Tennessee.

“I think it’s trending in the right way,” Lt. Governor Randy McNally defended Lee’s administration. “I think right now the plan’s okay.”

McNally added the Covid-19 pandemic is showing signs of slowing down. “I think with the the third vaccine coming on the market – and it only requires one shot – will be helpful.”

The clock is racing to get as many people vaccinated as possible. Tennessee is only second behind Georgia in new daily cases compared to Mississippi, Arkansas, Kentucky and Alabama.

“Hundreds of people are still dying every day from this,” said Dr. James Hildreth, President of Meharry Medical College.

Many health professionals agree the only way out of the pandemic is vaccination.

Still, some remain skeptical including some African Americans, younger adults, and vulnerable communities.

Black Tennesseans make up nearly 9% of people vaccinated. Close to 72% of Tennesseans who have been vaccinated are white.

“You gotta understand, you can’t just think about yourself here. You gotta think about others,” Rep. Shaw said.

That’s the same message Pastor Frank Stevenson of Friendship Missionary Baptist church has told his congregation. “I have seen, personally, how this virus has impacted our community.”

The longtime Nashville pastor continued, “I have done many funerals over the last year, including individuals who have died from Covid-19, and if we can participate in moving the needle on these fatalities by becoming vaccinated, then I think it’s really important we all do our part.”

He also shared that message to his students and younger adults as Dean of Students at Tennessee State University. He said younger people must do their part when their time comes to get vaccinated.

“Think about grandma and grandad and just press through,” Pastor Stevenson emphasized. “I understand that they have been in a space where it’s unfortunate to be young, and not to be as vibrant as you would like to be, but I think we’re going to get there, if they will just hold out a little while longer.”

Pastor Stevenson added it’s ultimately up to everyone to do their part in order to get passed the virus.

“We have so much to be thankful for and so with a joyful heart I lift up my voice and I cry out to God in praise and celebration just for the peace He’s given us in a very unstable space.”

The state has opted to not lead multiple mass vaccinations sites instead supplying local health departments, medical clinics, pharmacies, and retail stores with the shots.

Nashville will vaccinate 10,000 people Saturday, March 20th at Nissan Stadium.

As vaccinations gain momentum, News 2 digs deeper into what it will take for Tennessee to get into the home stretch of fighting COVID-19.
Join us for special reports on ‘The Vaccine Moving Forward‘ all day Thursday in every newscast.

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