First COVID-19 vaccines given in Carroll Co.

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Less than a year after the first COVID-19 cases were reported in this country, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave the green light on two COVID vaccines earlier this month, setting a new world record for vaccine development.

And select people across the country have already been given the first dose of one of the two vaccines, including a few here in Carroll County.

The Moderna vaccine was administered to 10 county first responders Monday afternoon outside the Carroll County Health Department (CCHD) in Huntingdon.

First in line for the shot was Sgt. Mike Taylor, 60, with the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department.

According to a press release from CCHD Director Emily Rushing, her department and other county health departments across the state have received their first shipments of the Moderna vaccine and will be administering this vaccine as doses are delivered in the coming days to first responders, home health care providers, student health care providers, and group homes for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, all in partnership with various organizations and local community emergency management agencies.

“We are excited to receive these vaccines and see our COVID-19 vaccination activities underway in our community,” said Rushing. “We’ve been preparing for months to distribute approved vaccines and we believe this will be a safe and effective tool in the fight against COVID-19.”

In total, 115,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine are scheduled to be allocated in Tennessee over the next two weeks, and over 56,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been designated for the state in the initial rollout. Smaller local hospitals in the state that are not already receiving the Pfizer vaccine are expected to receive the Moderna vaccine sometime next week.

As Rushing pointed out, initial supplies of both vaccines are limited, and the first allocations will be used to provide first doses to individuals qualifying for Phase 1a1, as detailed in the COVID-19 Vaccination Plan for Tennessee, which can be viewed online.

CCHD nurse supervisor Anna Todd, RN, was among the health professionals giving out those first 10 doses on Monday in Huntingdon, and she advised that those 10 people will need to receive their second dose in 28 days.

Todd also pointed out that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are not interchangeable, and each patient must receive two doses of the vaccine in order to be protected from COVID-19.

All those who received their first dose were given a card stating the date of their first dose, which of the two vaccines they received, and the date they need to get their second dose.

As Todd explained, the Moderna vaccine is shipped to sites frozen, thawed in a refrigerator, and then kept at room temperature for 15 minutes before being administered. Different procedures apply to the Pfizer vaccine.

Tennessee’s local health departments continue to offer COVID-19 testing five days a week at no charge to those wishing to be tested, and testing sites across the state started employing self-testing kits for adults three days a week on Monday to allow staff members to transition to the vaccination of frontline health care providers and first responders.

Testing hours and contact information for TDH health department testing sites can be accessed online at https://covid19.tn.gov/testing-sites/.

The Tennessee Department of Health has also set up an online dashboard providing daily updates on the rollout of the vaccines across the state.

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