First COVID vaccines

Pictured above, Dayton Fire Department Chief Chuck Suttles receives the COVID-19 vaccine at the Rhea County Health Department on Tuesday, Dec. 22.

The Rhea County Health Department gave out the first round COVID-19 vaccines to local first responders on Tuesday.

The health department notified Rhea County law enforcement agencies, fire departments and the ambulance service that vaccines had arrived and were ready to be administered.

The state health departments are administering the vaccines in accordance with the Tennessee COVID-19 Vaccination Plan, which was drafted earlier this month.

As part of the plan, the first doses of the vaccine will be given to front line healthcare workers and first responders, such as fire fighters and police officers.

While the state has not announced when it plans to expand vaccine distribution, the next phases of the vaccination plan will allow other individuals to receive the vaccine such as other healthcare workers and individuals with high-risk conditions such as cancer, diabetes and others.

The later phases of the vaccine plan allow critical infrastructure workers, teachers and healthy individuals over the age of 65 to receive the vaccine, followed then by children, healthy adults and anyone else who has not already been vaccinated.

“Tennessee’s plan for allocation of COVID-19 vaccine has been thoughtfully developed with a focus on how best to serve our diverse populations and communities, and to ensure distribution of vaccination sites across all 95 counties, especially in rural areas and those with high concentrations of people in vulnerable populations,” Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey said.

Tennessee’s COVID-19 vaccination plan was last updated Dec. 2 and will be modified as more is learned about the vaccines Tennessee will receive.

Tennessee’s local health departments continue to offer COVID-19 testing five days a week at no charge to those wishing to be tested.

TDH testing sites across the state will employ self-testing kits for adults to allow staff members to transition to vaccination of frontline health care providers and first responders. Find testing hours and contact information for TDH health department testing sites online at https://covid19.tn.gov/testing-sites/.