CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – A group of 10 first responders and public safety personnel from Montgomery County and the City of Clarksville received the first Moderna COVID-19 vaccines last week at the County Emergency Operations Center.
The shots were administered Dec. 21 by nurses from the Montgomery County Health Department. On subsequent days since then, as more shipments of vaccine have arrived, health care workers and more public safety personnel are receiving vaccinations.
“I appreciate these employees stepping forward to take the vaccine and I am thankful for the work they do each day to keep our community healthy and safe. This is the first of many steps we need to take in order to get to the other side of this pandemic,” Montgomery County Mayor Jim Durrett said.
Joey Smith, Montgomery County Health Director, said his department has been preparing for months to distribute the approved vaccines.
“We are excited to have these vaccines and see our COVID-19 vaccination activities under way in our community,” Smith said. “We believe this will be a safe and effective tool in the fight against COVID-19.”
The first group vaccinated, and all those getting the early rounds of inoculations, were selected based on criteria established by the Tennessee Department of Health. The first 10 local vaccine recipients included Dustin Haas and Jesse Ferrell with County Emergency Medical Services; Hope Peterson with 911 Dispatch; Mark Chandler and Robert Jones with Clarksville Fire Rescue; Fred Smith and Charles Hummel with the Sheriff’s Office; Steve Hamilton and Tina Slaven with Clarksville Police Department; and Tammy Arms with the Emergency Management Agency.
“While it is extremely important that we take these steps to offer greater protection for our most exposed populations, we must keep in mind that we all need to mask up, social distance and avoid gathering to minimize the spread of this virus,” Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts said.
The Tennessee Department of Health will provide data on COVID-19 vaccines administered in the state on a new online dashboard that will be updated each Tuesday and Friday.
Chandler, the first to receive the vaccination in Clarksville-Montgomery County said, “I’m honored to be a part of this. It’s great to see Montgomery County taking care of the people who take care of Montgomery County.”
Supplies of COVID-19 vaccines are limited. The first allocations of both the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines in Tennessee will be used for individuals qualifying for Phase 1a1, as outlined in the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan, which will be updated.
The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable, and each patient must receive two doses of the same vaccine to be protected against COVID-19. Those who choose to receive the vaccine will receive a card with the date of their first dose, the name/manufacturer of the vaccine received and the date on which they should receive their second dose.
Tennessee’s plan for allocation of vaccines has been developed on how to serve 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’s local health departments continue to offer free COVID-19 testing five days a week. TDH testing sites across the state began employing self-testing kits for adults three days a week on Dec. 21 to allow staff members to transition to vaccination of frontline health care providers and first responders. Find testing information online at https://covid19.tn.gov/testing-sites/.