MEMPHIS, Tenn. —
With approval of COVID-19 vaccines just right around the corner, Tennessee and the rest of the United States are preparing for distribution. The federal government expects 20 million people will be vaccinated by the end of December.
Tennessee leaders say they are ready as they can be to begin administering the vaccine. Tennessee is slated to receive about 150,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines once they are approved.
State leaders have been conducting drills and exercises and coming up with back up plans, preparing for any problems.
"There are a number of things that can go wrong. but if we have done our job right - to consider what those things might be - then we will be ready for the unforeseen circumstances," said Tennessee Governor Bill Lee.
Lee said the state is ready to take on the task of making sure vaccines get to the right places at the right time, and to Tennesseans who want to be vaccinated.
"We do need Tennesseans to know this is a choice for them. This vaccine will be their choice, but we want Tennesseans to choose," said Lee.
"This is the greatest public health crisis we have seen in more than 100 years," said CDC Director Robert Redfield.
While in Memphis this week, Redfield said COVID-19 vaccines will be a game changer, but added that convincing the public to take them will be a challenge.
"It's really sad, as an infectious disease physician, to see many people choose to leave vaccination on the shelf for themselves, their family, and their community," said Redfield.
While the vaccine is expected to be administered in the coming weeks. it will probably be well into 2021 before the majority of the people get it.
At a roundtable discussion in Memphis Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar made a plea to the millions who have already recovered COVID-19 to donate convalescent plasma. It can be given to someone currently infected to help them recover.
"If you are within three months of recovering from COVID-19, you have the chance to donate plasma and you can help save a life," said Azar.