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Nashville holds off lowering age to receive COVID vaccine

February 5, 2021 GMT
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RN Lauren Dean fills syringes with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine inside of the pharmacy at the Hamilton County Health Department's new COVID Vaccination POD at the CARTA Bus Terminal on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 in Chattanooga, Tenn. (Troy Stolt/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP)
1 of 2
RN Lauren Dean fills syringes with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine inside of the pharmacy at the Hamilton County Health Department's new COVID Vaccination POD at the CARTA Bus Terminal on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 in Chattanooga, Tenn. (Troy Stolt/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) —

As Tennessee slowly begins to loosen restrictions on who may receive the COVID-19 vaccine, Nashville on Friday had the strictest eligibility to receive the dose in the entire state.

Earlier this week, Tennessee’s Department of Health announced people age 70 and older may start receiving the doses. While local counties had the authority to set different instructions, most areas quickly expanded to include the new eligible age group.

However, Davidson County — which encompasses Nashville — has held off. As of Friday, the metro area was officially the only county limiting vaccine distribution to front-line workers and those 75 and older.

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“We’ll do all that we can to move as quickly as possible to move through that group,” Dr. Gill Wright, interim chief medical officer of Metro Nashville Public Health, told reporters on Thursday. “We’re feeling more comfortable with the supply of our vaccine and look forward to make school vaccinations in the near future.”

Nashville has distributed 105,000 doses of the vaccine to date, Wright said. Yet the city isn’t planning on lowering the age requirement until it clears the waiting list for 75 and older residents.

“Be patient, we will get to you,” Wright said.

According to the state, people between the ages of 70 and 74 have a 70% higher rate of death and a 40% higher rate of hospitalization from COVID-19 compared with those between 65 and 69.

Currently, 38 counties in mostly rural areas are not only allowing people 70 and older to be vaccinated but also allowing educators to receive the dose. Five out of the state’s 95 counties reported on Friday that they had no vaccine available.

Nearly 7.8% of Tennessee’s population have received at least one of the COVID-19 vaccine doses.

Overall, Tennessee has seen more 10,200 COVID-19-related deaths to date, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

That death count is the 14th highest in the country overall and the 19th highest per capita at around 150 deaths per 100,000 people. Meanwhile, one in every 360 people in Tennessee tested positive in the past week.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.

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Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak