As states rush to inoculate health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, only Tennessee has prioritized building its own emergency reserve of the coveted vaccine.
A review of each state's COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans shows that Tennessee alone has specified it will hold back a small portion in "case of spoilage of vaccine shipped to facilities." The state's initial shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that arrived December 14th was not distributed for inoculation, so health care workers had to wait until the second shipment arrived days later.
The move has baffled health care leaders, who say medical workers should take priority, especially as the state hits record case numbers.
"Given the extremely high case counts right now, our frontline health care workers are at higher risk than ever, I would personally advocate for those doses being used rather than stockpiled," said Dr. Isaac Thomsen, who leads the Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program Laboratory.