Tennessee's COVID-19 vaccination effort stumbles
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (Ryann Kieu) -- Tennessee’s vaccination effort has largely stalled. Of the 13 counties with a population of 100,000 or more, 12 have a fully vaccinated population of less than 30 percent. Five of these counties are located in Middle Tennessee.
Twenty-year-old Murfreesboro resident Amiyah Banks is one of those who hasn’t yet registered for a vaccine appointment. "I wouldn’t say I don’t want to get it [the COVID-19 vaccine], I don’t know, it just hasn’t been as important as it probably should be for me to get it, so I just haven’t gotten around to do it.”
COVID-19 vaccines were made available to phase 1a residents starting in December 2020. Governor Bill Lee announced that all Tennesseans over the age of 16 could receive the vaccine starting April 5th.
One month after his announcement, the largest counties in Tennessee still have less than half of their populations fully vaccinated. That list includes Williamson, Davidson, Rutherford, Wilson, and Sumner counties here in Middle Tennessee. Williamson has the highest fully vaccinated rate at 31 percent. Davidson, Wilson, and Sumner have 20 to 26 percent of their residents fully vaccinated.
Although Rutherford county is home to Middle Tennessee State University and a growing population in Murfreesboro, the county has the third lowest rate out of those with a population of 100,000 or more in Tennessee. Just 19 percent of the county’s residents are fully vaccinated.
Meredith Owens is a third semester nursing student at Middle Tennessee State University. She had the chance to administer vaccines to Rutherford County residents this past semester. She relished the chance to be a part of history. "To just be a part of being the first wave to give vaccines, I thought that was really unique and different, and I liked being able to help cause I know it’s been a scary time so I just felt like it was kind of a hopeful moment.”
The State of Tennessee will likely open vaccination appointments to anyone 12 and older beginning this week. For details and vaccine appointment registration, visit covid19.tn.gov.