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Governor says vaccine will not be mandatory
Bill Lee
Bill Lee

Gov. Bill Lee said at Warren County’s weekly COVID-19 press conference that when a vaccine for coronavirus is available, Tennesseans will not be required to take it.

“People will need to make their own decisions about vaccines,” Gov. Lee said. “There won’t be a mandate in this state for vaccines because it’s a personal choice for people. They’ve got to decide if the vaccine is safe and effective and then consult with their doctors to make the decision.”

The governor pointed out there isn’t currently a vaccine and one probably won’t be available in the immediate future.

“The earliest date any vaccine would be available is November, if even by then,” Gov. Lee said. “Those will be limited to those at very high risk.”

“We know there are going to be vaccines available to our state and they’re going to be very limited in number to start. We are putting in place a distribution model to make sure that if and when we get a vaccine we can quickly and efficiently deliver it,” said Lee.

Gov. Lee said the federal government will provide guidelines to states regarding distribution of the vaccine but he anticipates people currently living in congregate settings will have first crack at getting vaccinated.

“People in nursing homes, frontline healthcare workers, folks with particular comorbidities or underlying heath conditions that cause them to be at high risk for death as a result of COVID 19. There will be priority given to those at the highest level of risk and they will then have the option as to whether they want to take the vaccine or not. Once those priorities are met then you begin to move down into the general population and to allow folks to decide whether or not they would like to get the vaccine,” said Gov. Lee.